University of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

The effect of cultural background on the academic adjustment of first year dental students

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 18:58 authored by Burgess, TA, Crocombe, LA, Kelly, JM, Seet, PS

Students from backgrounds that are culturally different from the dominant culture of the university potentially face additional challenges in adjusting to the academic environment. This research aimed to discover the positive or negative influences (called critical incidents) that differentially affect the academic adjustment and success of first year dental students with Australian and non-Australian background cultures.

A cross-sectional survey utilizing a self-completed questionnaire was undertaken of all first year Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) and Bachelor of Oral Health (BOH) students who attended a Behavioural Science lecture in August 2007. The “critical incidents” which impacted on the learning of students of Australian and non-Australian self-defined cultural backgrounds were compared.

Of the 26 “critical incident” questions that impacted on the student’s academic adjustment during the year, the vast majority (23) were similar between students of Australian compared to those of non-Australian cultural backgrounds. Being confident with library skills had a greater positive impact on learning for students with a non-Australian background than it did for Australian students. Lecturers and lectures were more likely to have a negative influence and less likely to have a positive impact on learning of non- Australian students. Essays as an assessment method were more likely to have a positive influence on learning for Australian students. Writing and oral presentation skills were the most frequently cited special issues for students from non-Australian backgrounds.

Thus, students from Australian and non-Australian background cultures, whether they be international or local students, identified similar learning issues and problems.


Publication title

ergo: the journal of the Education Research Group of Adelaide






School of Health Sciences


Education Research Group of Adelaide

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright 2009 Higher Education Research Group of Adelaide

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Learner and learning not elsewhere classified

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania


    Ref. manager