An investigation of progression of King’s College London undergraduates through their dental programme and students’ perception of factors affecting their progression

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


A number of students fail to progress through their university studies, with some re-sitting years or having their studentship terminated. In addition, some students may not reach their full potential despite progressing satisfactorily. The purpose of this research was to investigate performance of King’s College London Dental Students in end-of-year examinations, as they progressed through their programme and to identify factors which may affect progression. A mixed-methods research design was employed including a longitudinal data analysis, questionnaires, focus groups and one-to-one interviews. BDS1 students perceived differences in volume of university work, compared to school, caused difficulties. Approximately, 66% of BDS5 students progressed without resitting an end-of-year examination and those that did most commonly cited family problems as a contributory cause. In a regression model using gender, perceived stress scores, accommodation factors and debt worries as explanatory variables, none were predictors of examination performance. There were fluctuations in performance, with at least 70% of students not remaining within the same top, middle or bottom third of their year group, as they progressed. There was a weak to moderate correlation (r = 0.33 to 0.55, p <0.05) between performance at beginning and end of the programmes though more than 70% of the variance was not accounted for. The unaccounted variance may be accounted for by findings in the qualitative strand of this research in which the six interview themes emerged: study/supporting study, the dental programme, personal life, feelings, students’ behaviour/ differences/ interactions, and assessment. The importance of support to successful progression was a recurring topic. In conclusion the performance of most students, relative to their peers, fluctuated as they progressed through their programme. Inter-personal interactions appeared to have a major influence on progression and may explain much of the variation in performance at beginning and end of the programme.
Date of Award2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorLyndon Cabot (Supervisor) & David Bartlett (Supervisor)

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