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Literacy as Part of Professional Knowing in Dental Education
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences Education. University of Gothenburg, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4858-0385
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The issue of this paper to scrutinise Swedish dental students’ writing in academic setting: what these students are expected to read and write, how they are expected to do this, and for what purposes they read and write.

Dental education is one of several professional programmes in higher education. The national learning outcomes stated in the Higher Education Ordinance (SFS 1993:100- SFS 2017:284) point out for example the importance of knowledge of the scientific basis as well as of proven experience for dental work, the capability of making diagnoses aw well as treating various dental diseases and malformations, but also leadership and collaboration. Such learning outcomes obviously are abstract, as they coven a whole program of 300 ECTS, and are to be somewhat more concretized in syllabuses for the various courses that together form the programme. However, as in other professional programmes within academia, part of the learning outcomes relate to content like physiology and neurology, others relate to tools, and materials used for dental work and their properties – in everyday terminology the ‘theoretical’ aspects of dental work. Other learning outcomes relate to what a dentist does – the ‘practical’ (clinical) aspects of dental knowledge. Furthermore, as becoming a dentist requires attending an educational programme, reading and writing are seen as self-evident aspects of the education. While it seems obvious that it takes time to become a skilled dentist and a degree is the necessary beginning in this direction, it seems less obvious that it also takes time to become a skilled writer in academia – where the meaning of being a skilled writer varies between disciplines (Bazerman, 1995; Blåsjö, 2004; Hjalmarsson et al. 2017; Lea & Street 1998; Airey 2011). Being a student in any higher education assumes participating in an activity that to a large extent is literacy based. To have the literacy competences and strategies needed for educational activities are crucial resources for students – these are the means for coping with literacy demands in varying but relevant situations, depending on the purpose of reading and or writing (Bazerman 1995; Dias et al. 1999; Berthén et al. 2006; Street, 2003). For students in professional programmes, there is also another aspect – today part of a dentist professional work is literacy-related: documentation of work done, reports, subscriptions, referrals – these are one type of examples of what dentists are expected to write as part of their work. Other types of writing that today are imposed on most professions, be they academic or not, are related to quality control, sustainability and security (Lindberg, 2003). Previous studies show that the transition from upper secondary school to higher education is challenging for students (Ask 2007), since the literacy practices they have experiences of differ from those they encounter in academia. Appropriating relevant academic literacies is relational – i.e. students of course need to struggle but it is also a question of what is made available to them (Edwards 2005). Characteristic for of academic literacies, whether in science (Airey 2011); engineering (Berthén et al. 2006; Hållsten 2008); in history or national economy (Blåsjö 2004), is that students nee to master different genres (a breadth), but also a progression, in terms of complexity, in order to become successful within a programme or a discipline. So the overarching question for this paper is what literacy practices that characterise one of the Swedish dental programmes? 

Method

The present study is conducted during the third year of the study programme in dentistry (SPD), during the modules “orofacial pain and jaw function 1 and 2”, at the Department of Dental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden. The SPD has a duration of five years (300 credits) divided into 10 semesters. Each of the 10 semesters is composed by courses and the courses in modules. The third year consist of the fifth and sixth semesters. The modules “orofacial pain and jaw function 1 and 2” are closely connected with each other and are divided into two modules due to the semester break. The data analysed for this paper are modules part of the courses ”clinical odontology 2 and 3. For the overall project, the data produced are of three types: (i) curricular documents, including information given in study guides to the students; (ii) ethnographic data from lectures and clinical work (sound-recordings and field-notes during lectures, textbooks, hand-outs from the lectures, student notes from the given lectures, multiple-choice questions from the digital examination and clinical instructions); as well as (iii) interviews with students and teachers. Literacy events, i.e. what students read or write, and text-related communication (Barton 2007; Karlsson 2006; Street 2003) are mapped throughout all activities (lectures, clinical work, and examinations). During clinical work, only field-notes were taken and only one of the researchers that also were teachers in the programme took the notes since clinical work also involves patients. As a first step of the analysis, we use literacy event for identifying patterns related to text genres (Barton 2007; Street, 2003), and will pay attention to multimodal aspects (Airey 2011; Kress 2003) of text used and produced. The second step is to analyse relations between patterns, i.e. questions like What literacy practices characterize dental education? Which of these patterns are related to dental academic literacy practices, and which are related to professional dental literacy practices? Since data produced so far are from the first phase of the project, this is how far we have come.

Expected Outcomes

As some of the data production will continue during spring, we have so far concentrated on the mapping of literacy events (step 1 in the analysis), which mainly is a descriptive result. During lectures, powerpoints were used for structuring the physiological knowledge related to orofacial pain and jaw function. All slides were distributed in advance to the students via the digital learning environment used by KI. Most slides were multimodal in that they combined graphical pictures of neurological and physiological information related to the construction of a jaw and the different functions of the parts, highlighting aspects specifically related to orofacial pain. Students’ notes vary: while some made notes directly in the powerpoint, others took notes separately. During clinical work, students were given forms to fill in with the purpose of two types of documentation: medical and narrative. The analytic result will complement this descriptive result.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
Keywords [en]
Professional literacy, New literacy Studies, Dental Education, Sweden
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Didactics; Educational Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-165078OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-165078DiVA, id: diva2:1281205
Conference
ECER 2018: Inclusion and Exclusion, Resources for Educational Research?, Bolzano, Italy, September 3-7, 2018
Available from: 2019-01-21 Created: 2019-01-21 Last updated: 2019-04-10Bibliographically approved

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