University Of Tasmania

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Achieving knowledge to be a catalyst for change: Exploring dementia care students' reasons for participation in learning

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 21:11 authored by Emma LeaEmma Lea, Claire EcclestonClaire Eccleston, Melissa AbelaMelissa Abela

The Dementia Care Degree Program is designed to attract and support adults with limited educational backgrounds who provide social and health care for people with dementia (Goldberg & Canty, 2015; Kelderet al., 2013). Diverse students live across Australia, typically working in residential or community care in care and health roles. This undergraduate course is therefore unusual in that students bring an informed perspective from their work into their studies. The students are also predominantly middle-aged women from rural and regional Australia, working part-time or full-time.

This presentation explores early data from a survey study investigating the student cohort. A detailed online baseline survey was completed by 101 students about their dementia attitudes, knowledge and self-efficacy, barriers and facilitators of study, and early experiences of the course. Demographic data collected as part of admission will be extracted from the University’s Student Management System and matched with survey responses. The survey will be repeated each calendar year and linked to student achievement. Open-ended questions will collect more detailed information on issues such as specific course content that participants consider to be useful for personal and/or work life.

Findings will be discussed with reference to what prompted students to begin studying, and what they hope to achieve. Most students (61%) hope to improve the lives of people with dementia. Together with the relevance to their current work, this potentially provides them with the impetus to deeply engage with their learning; for example, enquiring deeply into content due to additional interest, and using their already acquired experiential knowledge to acquire a greater breadth and depth of understanding. The presentation will also provide information on processes around undertaking surveys to better understand diverse student cohorts as well as on how to incorporate content into online courses which encourages application of learning to students’ own contexts.


Publication title

Teaching Matters 2021 Proceedings


36 -37


Wicking Dementia Research Education Centre


University of Tasmania

Event title

Teaching Matters 2021 - Celebrating diversity

Event Venue


Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Higher education; Health related to ageing

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