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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 30-37

Undergraduate dental students' perceptions regarding educational environment in a private dental institute in India


1 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Maitri College of Dentistry and Research Centre, Anjora, Chhattisgarh, India
2 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Formerly, I.T.S Dental College and Research Centre, Greater Noida, India
3 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Surendra Dental College and Research Institute, Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan, India

Date of Submission13-Oct-2017
Date of Acceptance08-Jan-2018
Date of Web Publication23-Mar-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Vaibhav Motghare
Qr. No. 3B, Street No. 8, Sec 9 Bhilai, Chhattisgarh - 490 009
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jiaphd.jiaphd_137_17

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  Abstract 

Introduction: Developing countries with improper dentist population ratio like India cannot lose health-care students during their undergraduate training period. Educational environment indirectly influences academic outcome of students needed to be assessed quantitatively so that perceptions of students can be acknowledged. The present study is influenced by this concern to understand views of students about the climate of their institute. Aim: The aim of this study is to gauge students' perceptions about their educational climate in a dental college in India and to evaluate the differences if any, related to gender and year of training with regard to perceptions toward educational environment. Subjects and Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out using the Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure (DREEM) questionnaire as the survey instrument. Questionnaire was distributed to undergraduate dental students (n = 326) within study duration of 6 months by primary investigator. Data analysis was done using SPSS version 21. Descriptive statistics were computed. t- test and one-way analysis of variance were used with level of statistical significance was set at P ≤ 0.05. Results: Overall DREEM score of institute was 126.46 indicating positive perceptions among students for their educational environment. Statistically significant difference was obtained for gender and year of study (P ≤ 0.05). A total of nine problem areas (individual mean score <2) were identified in the present academic environment. Conclusions: Undergraduate dental students have positive perceptions regarding their educational environment with some problematic areas needing proper action and intervention.

Keywords: Dental school, Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure, learning environment, perception


How to cite this article:
Motghare V, Jayaprakash K, Gupta N. Undergraduate dental students' perceptions regarding educational environment in a private dental institute in India. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2018;16:30-7

How to cite this URL:
Motghare V, Jayaprakash K, Gupta N. Undergraduate dental students' perceptions regarding educational environment in a private dental institute in India. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent [serial online] 2018 [cited 2019 Nov 12];16:30-7. Available from: http://www.jiaphd.org/text.asp?2018/16/1/30/228296


  Introduction Top


Climate in a broad sense is considered as somewhat diaphanous and nebulous in nature, yet learning environment of an institute is considered as ubiquitous, fundamental, authentic, and influential in character.[1] It is the educational environment that quietly influences the health-care professional's punctuality, hard work, and ethical responsibility. Educational environment of an institute indirectly helps the health-care students to realize their professional and moral responsibilities. Educational climate not only plays a crucial role in shaping career of students but also helps in generating a quality workforce for the society.

Educational and organizational environment is a significant manifestation of curriculum of an institute. Educational environment is intangible and elusive in nature, and every institute needs to identify its favorable and unfavorable areas to improve students' performance. Hence, to appraise educational environment of an institute, various survey instruments have been developed and evolved over a period of time. The Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure (DREEM) is regarded as universally validated and accepted questionnaire consisting of fifty questions within five subscales which are students' perceptions of learning (SPL), students' perceptions of teachers (SPT), students' academic self-perceptions (ASP), students' perceptions of atmosphere (SPA), and students' social self-perceptions.[2] It consists of 41 positively worded statements (items, questions) each scored 0–4 with 4 = strongly agree, 3 = agree, 2 = unsure, 1 = disagree, and 0 = strongly disagree, and nine negative ones scored in reverse (4-0) related to a range of topics directly relevant to educational environment.[2] The maximum score of DREEM questionnaire is 200 signifying quintessential educational environment score in the range of 151–200 indicating excellent environmental condition while range of 0–50 indicating very poor environmental condition.[2] In India, DREEM inventory had been applied in many medical institutes, but its application in dental institutes is rare. A study conducted in a dental college in southern India found lack of congenial social atmosphere mostly due to attitude of faculty members.[3] Another study conducted at a private dental college in Bhubaneshwar city in India found a positive learning environment among clinical year students.[4] At present, many private dental schools have been set up all over country to meet increased consumer demand for oral health services.[5] The future dental workforce will comprise students who have passed out from these private institutes. Thus, it is necessary to know their perceptions regarding educational environment so that every institute can take steps to enhance learning strategies.

Keeping above-mentioned points in consideration, the present study aimed to gauge perceptions of undergraduate dental students studying in a private dental institute in northern India using DREEM inventory and to evaluate the differences if any, related to gender and year of training.


  Subjects and Methods Top


Brief profile of dental program across country

The dental curriculum of the country has been formulated by “the Dental Council of India” which is an independent body to scrutinize dental education in various institutes all over the country.[5] Dental curriculum is of 5-year duration with 1 year of compulsory paid rotational internship.[5]

Concise outline of study setting

This study was planned and conducted in a private dental institute situated in Gautam Buddh Nagar District of Uttar Pradesh, India. The institute was established in the year 2006 and admits 100 undergraduate students per year as per guidelines of “the Dental Council of India.”[5] Research procedure was authorized by the ethical committee of the institute (IEC/PHD/03/12). Permission from the college authority was obtained before the start of the study for collecting data from the students.

Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure questionnaire

The DREEM inventory [Appendix 1] had been reported to be universally valid instrument.[2],[6],[7] It consists of 50 statements having a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 4 (strongly agree) to 0 (strongly disagree). The survey instrument consisted of five subscales which are as follows: “(a) SPL; (b) SPT; (c) students' ASP; (d) SPA; (e) students' social self-perceptions (SSP).”[6],[8],[9] Guidelines for the interpretation of DREEM questionnaire is described in [Table 1] adapted from Odole et al.[8]
Table 1: Interpretation of mean dreem scores

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Pilot study and sampling

A pilot study was conducted in the department of public health dentistry among twenty-two students. For the study purpose, convenient sample of all undergraduate students of the institute was selected for the study.

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Students who present on the day of survey and gave informed consent were included in the study. Dropout students, interns, and incomplete questionnaire were not incorporated in the final sample size.

Scheduling

After pilot study, daily and weekly schedules were prepared accordingly, and in a single day, a maximum of twenty-five students from one batch were administered “DREEM” questionnaire. The DREEM questionnaire fulfilled the reliability criteria in the present population, with an overall alpha coefficient of 0.93. The entire study spanned from January 2013 to June 2013 (6 months). Initially, students were briefly addressed by primary investigator regarding purpose, objective, and importance of their participation in the survey. Students were free to participate in the survey, and verbal assurance was given to the students that their identity will be kept confidential and their participation in the survey will not hamper their individuals' final educational outcome. Questionnaires along with informed consent were distributed to the students during practical and theory classes by the primary investigator in which students were given a period of 1 h to respond.

Statistical analysis

The Statistical Package for the Social Science, version 21 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) was used for analysis of data and 95% confi dence interval was used for analysis of data and 95% confidence interval was used. Mean, standard deviation, Student's t-test, and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) followed by Dunnett's test were used for comparison between gender and year of study. Level of significance was set at P ≤ 0.05.


  Results Top


Demographic details of study population

After defining the selection criteria, 368 undergraduate students fulfilled the eligibility criteria of research protocol. Three-hundred and thirty-five dental undergraduates responded and returned the questionnaire. There were a total of nine incomplete questionnaires which were rejected as they were incomplete giving a final response rate of 88.5% (n = 326; 128 males and 198 females). Year-wise distribution of male and female students is depicted in mentioned table [Table 2].
Table 2: Year-wise distribution of male and female students

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The study population gave an overall mean score of 126.46 ± 19.91 which indicated that students had positive perceptions toward the educational environment of the institute [Table 3]. The mean score of five subscales of the questionnaire is as follows: students' perceptions for learning were 31.24 ± 5.1 (78.1%) indicating a more positive perception which was also true regarding perceptions for teachers which was 27.47 ± 4.7 (62.4%) indicating a favorable response toward teachers. Regarding ASP, the mean score obtained was 22.17 ± 4.5 (55.4%) revealing that students were more confident regarding their own academic skills. Students' perceptions of atmosphere were 29.64 ± 6.6 (61.7%) implying that they were more comfortable with the educational environment. Students' SSP was 15.94 ± 3.7 (56.9%) which was also not bad. Students appraised every subscale of educational environment of the institute with highest percentage was given to ASP scale (69.2%) and lowest percentage to SSP scale (56.9%) [Table 3].
Table 3: Overall and subscale comparison of the Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure inventory

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Year-wise comparison

Statistically significant difference was obtained for study year using one-way ANOVA (P = 0.007) [Table 4]. Comparison of subscales revealed that all subscales except SPT were statistically significant. The 1st-year students had more positive perceptions toward educational environment for all five subscales when compared with other 3 years. Post hoc Dunnett's test showed statistically significant difference for 15 statements of inventory with a year of study.
Table 4: Comparison of the Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure score with year of study

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Gender-wise comparison of Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure scores

The mean DREEM score was higher for male students (129.06) than female students (124.78) with (P = 0.05) using t-test. Overall, both genders rated the educational environment of the institute in a more positive way [Table 5].
Table 5: Gender-wise comparison of the Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure scores

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Individual item analysis

Totally nine items (18%) got a mean score of ≤2 indicating problem areas in the educational environment which needed proper investigation and possible investigation. Four statements (8%) got a mean score of 3 and above indicating areas of strength, and a total of 37 (74%) items in the questionnaire got a score between 2.1 and 3 indicating need for further improvement [Table 6].
Table 6: Individual item analysis of the Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure questionnaire

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The maximum mean score was 3.24 obtained for the statement “teachers are knowledgeable,” and the lowest mean score was 1.35 for the statement “teaching overemphasizes factual learning.” Nine problem areas identified are summarized in [Graph 1].




  Discussion Top


In the present study, overall mean score was 126.46 (63.2%), which according to developers of DREEM inventory is considered as constructive educational environment for students.[8] Many medical institutes had scrutinized their educational environment using DREEM questionnaire all over the world including third world nations. However, its implementation in dental institutes around the globe is quite sparse.[10] The past research in a South Indian Dental University, Greek Dental School, and in Saudi Arabia has shown overall DREEM scores of 57.5%, 56%, and 50%, respectively, while studies done in New Zealand and the United Kingdom have a higher mean score of 141.4 and 143.58 when compared with the present study.[3],[10],[11],[12],[13] Thus, it can be speculated that dental institutes in the western world are fairly innovative to provide a student-friendly approach to education when compared with dental institutes in Asian and middle east continent.[14] In the present study, students gave higher than average scores suggestive of affirmative environmental conditions which can have overall academic growth of undergraduate dental students.[15],[16]

Individual subscale analysis also showed positive rating of each domain by dental students of the institute with a higher mean score for subscale “SPL” (31.24), followed by SPA (29.64), students' perceptions of teaching (27.66), students' ASP (22.17), and students' SSP (15.94). Global comparison with previous dental studies in Greece and Saudi Arabia reveals lower subscale scores than the present study, but a study in New Zealand shows an overall higher mean score for all subscales.[10],[11],[12],[13] Hence, it can be speculated that students studying in western developed countries are more satisfied with their educational environment and perceive their study climate more positively.

In the current research, the 1st-year students have more positive attitude regarding educational environment when compared with the final-year students which is consistent with results obtained at India and Greece.[3],[10] Thus, it can be speculated that students' active involvement in the clinical courses and patient work might be a reason for subsequent year-wise decline in mean subscale scores.

Gender-wise comparison showed that the female students imparted less score to educational environment when juxtaposed to male counterparts. The present study displayed effect of gender on the perceptions related to their educational environment which is contrary to study done on dental students in Greece.[10]

In the present study, perception of students varied with year of enrolment and it was found to be statistically significant. Preclinical students (enrolled in the 1st and 2nd year) gave more positive responses when compared to clinical students (enrolled in the 3rd and 4th year). Year-wise variation in DREEM score did not follow a consistent pattern which could be attributed to various intrinsic and extrinsic environmental factors of the institute.[17]

In the present study, nine items got a mean score of <2 (indicating problem areas) and four items got a mean score above 3 indicating strong areas of educational environment. Students felt that there is a need for a proficient support staff for students who get anxious during their study tenure. This is a cause of concern for every academician all over the world, and this has been reported in other medical and dental studies suggesting that this is the most complicated area of educational environment.[2],[10],[18] Thus, there is a need to develop proper intervention plan (for example, design of student support cell and need for more student-friendly orientation) which could facilitate the development of positive attitude for learning among student themselves to combat stress.

The present research gave a glimpse of students' thoughts about their educational environment and has been able to identify concern area for the institute. Thus, it would be valuable to conduct a similar study at other private dental institutes in India as well as international institutions enabling in generalizability of the current findings to institutes with a similar curriculum.

In the present study, students were selected by convenient sampling and number of students varied considerably between study years. These were the major limitations which should be recognized as this might have inflated or deflated the scores. In future, it is recommended to conduct furthur studies which should include large samples distributed over many dental schools to critically understand reasons for such distribution of DREEM scores.


  Conclusions Top


Undergraduate dental students have positive perceptions regarding their educational environment with some problematic areas needing proper action and intervention.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.







 
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    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6]


This article has been cited by
1 Perceptions of freshman dental students regarding academic environment
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Journal of Indian Association of Public Health Dentistry. 2019; 17(3): 224
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