Perceptions of oral health practitioners regarding the long-term effects of service learning; a qualitative study




Service Learning, Community Engagements, Perceptions, Academic Enhancement, Civic Responsibility, Interpersonal Skills, and Learning


The long-term effects of service learning (SL) have not been explored in the oral health field. Such information has the potential to provide useful feedback to dental educators regarding the effectiveness and impact of SL. This would be relevant in the South African context of inequality and poor access to care. To explore the perceptions of oral health professionals from an academic institution regarding the long-term effects of SL. A case study design was used. Semi-structured interviews were conducted. A total of 22 participants from the Bachelor of Dental Therapy, Bachelor of Dental Surgery, and Bachelor of Oral Hygiene participated in the study.
The participants indicated that SL is a worthy activity that exposed them to the real world of dentistry and provided them with the exposure that prepared them for work actualities. Four major themes emerged; namely, personal qualities, relationship building, challenges related to SL and strategies to improve the outcomes. Participants found SL to be beneficial in their professional
development and practice although they highlighted some challenges in practice. They recommended the improvement and upgrading of the SL program, as well as further research on SL approaches in other environments


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Author Biography

P Sodo, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


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How to Cite

Phalwane, M., Mthelebofu, B., & Sodo, P. (2023). Perceptions of oral health practitioners regarding the long-term effects of service learning; a qualitative study. South African Dental Journal, 78(02), 68–73.