Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Mismatched Expectation?: Creating a Framework for Understanding Teaching and Learning

Dr Wendy McMillan.

My paper is located in the field of dental education. It reports on work in progress. I present initial findings of research conducted at a dental faculty in South Africa. The faculty mission - to provide quality education that promotes access and redress - has resulted in interest in teaching strategies that facilitate the effective learning of all students. The impetus for the research came from a faculty concern regarding the high failure rate of first and second year dental and oral hygiene students. The study sets out to examine the relationship between the expectations of academic competence that lecturers have of first year candidates and the knowledge, skills and values with which students enter university. Identity is used as a theoretical framework for understanding the findings. I make the argument that academic discourse is not 'neutral', that it is embedded in a particular set of assumptions about how the world works, and that these assumptions are enabling for some students and potentially alienating for others. The paper sets out to provide a theoretical framework within which dental lecturers can understand their work as facilitators of learning. I present a potential position from which dental educators can make explicit the conceptual understandings that underpin scientific discourse in ways that empower all learners.


Dr Wendy McMillan  (South Africa)
Education Advisor
Education Advosiry
University of the Western Cape

Wendy McMillan trained as a primary school teacher and has worked in the fields of primary, preschool and teacher education. She is currently employed as Education Advisor to the Dental Faculty at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. Her portfolio focuses on curriculum, staff and academic development.

  • Dental education
  • Teaching
  • Learning
  • Lecturer expectations
  • Identity
  • Academic discourse

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)