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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 224-229

Perceptions of freshman dental students regarding academic environment


1 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Maitri College of Dentistry and Research Centre, Anjora, Chhattisgarh, India
2 Private Practitioner, Maitri College of Dentistry and Research Centre, Anjora, Chhattisgarh, India
3 Intern, Maitri College of Dentistry and Research Centre, Anjora, Chhattisgarh, India

Date of Submission27-Sep-2018
Date of Acceptance04-Apr-2019
Date of Web Publication12-Sep-2019

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


DOI: 10.4103/jiaphd.jiaphd_179_18

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  Abstract 


Background: Quality of future dental workforce is passively determined by their perceptions to curriculum and academic environment. Aim: The aim of the study is to know the anticipations of the freshly joined dental students about their educational environment using Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure (DREEM) questionnaire and comparing it after the completion of the 1st year. Materials and Methods: This was a longitudinal study conducted in a private dental institute. DREEM questionnaire was given to 84 freshman students on the day of joining institute and after completion of 1 year. The Statistical Package for the Social Science, version 21 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) was used for analysis of data, and 95% confidence interval was used for analysis of data. Mean and standard deviation were calculated. Wilcoxon signed rank test was used to compare overall mean DREEM scores, subscales scores, and individual scores on two occasions. Level of statistical significance was set at P ≤ 0.05. Results: Mean DREEM score on the first occasion was 147.8 and completion of the 1st year was 124.6 with a discrepancy of 23.2. Conclusions: Students have positive perceptions for their academic environment at the time of joining institute and after completion of 1 year in the institute with DREEM score obtained was above 101 (indicating more positive than negative environment) on both occasion.

Keywords: Dental institute, Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure, freshman dental students, perceptions


How to cite this article:
Motghare V, Upadhya S, Senapati S, Lal S, Paul V. Perceptions of freshman dental students regarding academic environment. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2019;17:224-9

How to cite this URL:
Motghare V, Upadhya S, Senapati S, Lal S, Paul V. Perceptions of freshman dental students regarding academic environment. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Oct 23];17:224-9. Available from: http://www.jiaphd.org/text.asp?2019/17/3/224/266755




  Introduction Top


The academic outcome of a student is chiefly dependent on the educational environment of the institute.[1] In recent years, there is a steep rise in the research regarding the understanding of the academic outcome of a student, especially in medical and dental colleges. Various instruments such as Medical Environment Index, Medical School Learning Environment Survey, Learning Environment Questionnaire, Medical School Environmental Stress Inventory, Clinical Learning Environment, Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure (DREEM) has been developed to quantitatively measure educational environment.[1],[2]

DREEM inventory has been considered as a universally accepted instrument developed in the Centre for Medical Education in Dundee. It consists of 50 questions which have been divided into five subscales to measure the educational environment of an institute. For the ease of understanding and worldwide acceptance, it has been translated into various languages.[3] In India, the undergraduate educational environment in dental colleges showed positive perceptions of students when studies were carried out.[4],[5],[6],[7],[8] Another striking feature of DREEM inventory is its individual scoring pattern. This pattern enables the determination of areas of strength and weaknesses in the environment, thus making it easier for the authorities to ameliorate the problematic areas.[7] Expectations of the newly admitted students are always high in their educational environment. Although time makes it easier for the students to acclimatize themselves to certain aspects of the institute, it fails to prevent the negative impact of certain aspects on their learning abilities. Thus, the present study aims to know anticipations of the freshly joined dental students about their educational environment using DREEM questionnaire and comparing it after the completion of the 1st year.


  Materials and Methods Top


Study design and study setting

A longitudinal study was conducted for a duration of 1 year (September 2016–September 2017) in a private dental college in Chhattisgarh, India. The dental ethical committee of the institute enrolled with AYUSH university, Chhattisgarh and had authorized the research procedure based on the ethical guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi (MCDRC/PHD/3/15).

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

The study included those students who were present on the day of survey and gave informed consent, whereas students who were absent, dropouts, and those who did not give informed consent or have incomplete questionnaire were excluded from the study.

Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure questionnaire

DREEM is a universally accepted questionnaire with 50 statements (41 positively worded and 9 negatively worded). It comprises five subscales which are – “student's perceptions of learning” (SPL), “student's perceptions of teachers” (SPT), “student's academic self-perceptions,”(ASP), “student's perceptions of atmosphere” (SPA), and “student's social self-perceptions” (SSP). Every statement has a scoring from 0 to 4 where 4 implies for strongly agree, 3 for agree, 2 for unsure, 1 for disagree and 0 for strongly disagree. Negative statements are scored in reverse order (4-0).[2] The maximum score of DREEM questionnaire which can be obtained is 200 which signifies excellent educational environment. Scoring criteria for overall DREEM score are as follows: 0–50 – Very poor; 51–100 – Significant problem; 101–150 – More positive than negative; and 151–200 – Excellent.

Modifications in Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure questionnaire

As per the aim of the study, two sets of DREEM questionnaire were prepared (original and modified). As it was desired to know the presumed expectations of students about their educational environment, modifications were done in the sentences. In the modified version, tense was changed from present continuous to future continuous. For example, the teaching is student-centered was changed to the teaching will be student centered. After modification, focus group discussion was done and modified DREEM questionnaire was further screened by the panel of two judges who carried out content validation. S-CVI (content validity for overall scale) obtained was 0.9. After approval from the panel, modified and original questionnaire were pilot tested on the 2nd-year undergraduate students on two different occasions with a gap of 1 month. In the pilot test, internal reliability of the questionnaire was assessed by calculating Cronbach's alpha through split half technique and overall alpha value obtained was 0.8.

Scheduling

Questionnaire was administered on two occasions. Freshman students who were enrolled in the institute were given modified DREEM questionnaire on the 1st day of college (September 2016). Students were briefly instructed about the purpose of administrating questionnaire and were assured that their identity would be concealed. They were asked to respond to the questionnaire thinking about their expectations of the educational environment. Two trained volunteers distributed and collected modified questionnaire. A total number of 88 students were present on the 1st day of college and got themselves enrolled for the research project. Participants were identified and coded and data were entered into Excel.

After 11 months (September 2017), the enrolled students in the study were contacted again, and the original DREEM questionnaire was distributed to them. They were then instructed to respond to the statements in the questionnaire with their actual experience in the institute till date. Four students failed to appear on the second occasion, so the result was formulated by excluding data of those five students giving a final sample size of 84.

Statistical analysis

The Statistical Package for the Social Science, version 21 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) was used for analysis of data and 95% confidence interval was used for analysis of data. Mean and standard deviation were calculated. Wilcoxon signed rank test was used to compare overall mean DREEM scores, subscales scores and individual scores on two occasions. Level of statistical significance was set at P ≤ 0.05.


  Results Top


The total number of freshman students participated in the study was 84. A number of male students were 29 ± 34.5% and female students were 55 (65.5%).

Dundee ready education environment measure score

Overall DREEM score obtained when administered to freshman student on the 1st day of joining of their curriculum was 147.8. According to DREEM developers, it indicated students have more positive response than negative. On administration of questionnaire at time of completion of the 1st year, DREEM score obtained was 124.6. The discrepancy of DREEM score obtained was 23.2 [Table 1].
Table 1: Comparison of overall Dundee Ready Education Environment Measure score and subscale

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Subscale score

In all the subscales, DREEM score obtained on the first occasion was higher than the second occasion. Expected DREEM score obtained for subscales as follows: SPL-36.9; SPT-32.02, SAP-20.12; SPA-34.8; and SSP-21.02. DREEM score obtained after completion of 11 months obtained is as follows: SPL-27.4; SPT-26.33; SAP-20.0; SPA-33.9; and SSP-15.31. Detailed description of the mean rank DREEM scores along with dissonance between two scores is described in [Table 1]. Interpretation for individual item analysis is as follows-Individual mean DREEM score if <2 indicate problem area. Between 2.1 and 3 indicate needs improvement, 3.1–3.5 indicate positive aspect, and more than 3.5 indicate excellent environment.

Students at time of joining institute considered learning to be positive and expected that they will have a positive learning environment which appeared to be same after completion of 1st year as mean DREEM score on both occasions came in the range between 25 and 37 indicating more positive perception. In academic self-perception and academic environment, students have pragmatic approach toward it which still upholds after 1st-year completion. Perceptions for teachers came to be in the same range (23–33) on both occasions indicating students and teachers co-ordination is moving in the right direction. For social self-perception, DREEM score on both occasions indicates students presumed to have more optimistic way of socially dealing with their colleagues which they still continue to do it. Statistically significant difference was obtained for all subscales and overall DREEM scores ( P ≤ 0.05) [Table 1].

In subscales SPL, out of 12 statements, 9 statements when compared before the start of the study and after completion of 1 year were statistically significant ± P ≤ 0.05. In SPT, seven statements were statistically significant. For academic self-perceptions (SPA) five items showed statistically significant variation ( P ≤ 0.05). Five items showed statistically significant variation ( P ≤ 0.05). Out of 12 statements regarding perceptions toward atmosphere, seven statements were found statistically significant. In subscale students social perceptions, four items were statistically significant [Table 2].
Table 2: Individual statement analysis of Dundee Ready Education Environment Measure questionnaire

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Individual item analysis

Analysis of individual statements gives an idea of weakness and strength of academic environment. Before joining the academic session, students assumed that cheating would be a problem (1.6) and students would irritate teachers (1.36). After 1 year, both these assumptions were improved as there was increase in mean individual DREEM score 2.7 and 3.02, respectively, for both statements, after 1 year completion, students identify seven problematic areas in academic environment.

During analysis of both questionnaires, dissonance scores were calculated by subtracting mean DREEM score obtained on the first occasion from mean DREEM score obtained from the second occasion. Highest dissonance was obtained for statement-teachers are authoritarian (1.8) followed by teaching staff concerned to develop my competence (1.5). In certain statements, expectations of students matched with actual scenario they faced within 1 year like “Students are able to ask questions which they feel to ask (0.04); have learned a lot about empathy in profession (0.07); they find teaching to be simulating (0.06); and teachers students (0.08)”. Students find atmosphere to be relaxed during lecture (0.12) and in clinic (0.17) and they feel that there is opportunity for them to develop interpersonal skills (0.2). Detailed description of dissonance score is given in [Table 2]. None of the areas were regarded as excellent by students.


  Discussion Top


The students' expectations of their educational environment on both occasions came to be “more positive than negative.” However, discrepancy of the mean score obtained was 23.6. This discrepancy can be attributed to high expectations of students before joining the curriculum and certain limitations in the present academic environment. A similar study done by Ali et al. and Miles and Leinster found actual DREEM scores to be less when compared to expected DREEM score.[1],[9] Studies conducted on other parts of country on dental students obtained DREEM score as follows: 119.65 in private dental college in Orissa,[6] 137.97 in Bengaluru,[7] 126.46 in a private college in Northern India,[10] 111.14 in a college in Kottayam Kerala,[11] 125.0 at dental college in Belgaum,[12] 125.24 in a private dental institute in Hyderabad,[4] and 124.0 in a dental college in Tamil Nadu.[5]

Subscale analysis showed maximum dissonance for SPL (9.5) and lowest for perceptions regarding atmosphere (0.9). As less dissonance was there for atmosphere and social self-perceptions, it can be said that students' expectations have been achieved since 1 year. In a similar study done by Susan et al. in the UK and study conducted among dental students in Saudi Arabia found discrepancy scores obtained for both subscales found on the lower end.[1] Thus, it can be said that students are well versed in associating with their colleagues. Similarly, dissociation score for learning and teachers were higher in the present study similar to a study conducted in Saudi Arabia and New Zealand.[13],[14] Reason for such dissociation can be attributed to change in teaching pattern and learning techniques in high school and dental institute. In dental institutes in India, students have to concentrate both in practical and theoretical areas which can be attributed for such high discrepancy in scores. Furthermore, a study done by Thomas et al. found that more clinical contact with teachers and work pressure can be attributed for students having negative impact for learning and teachers.[8]

Individual item analysis showed areas of strength and weakness after completion of 1 year. Maximum discrepancy was obtained for statement “teachers are authoritarian” (1.77). Difference in teaching pattern in high school and university might be reason for such discrepancy. Dental curriculum involves preclinical practical classes along with theoretical lectures, in which students need to Excel, so that they prove to be reputable clinician in years ahead. Furthermore, various DREEM studies across the globe conducted in New Zealand,[14] Greece,[15] Spain,[16] Saudi Arabia[17] and Australia[18] found similar perceptions for above statement. Lowest discrepancy was obtained regarding students perceptions for freely ask questions 0.04. This indeed indicates that students have adapted and adjusted to college atmosphere similar to studies done in different part of India.[6],[19]

Overall DREEM score obtained after completion of 1 year was 124.6 which indicate “more positive than negative.” Furthermore, studies conducted among different parts of the world showed positive perceptions among dental students towards their curriculum similar to studies done by Saudi Arabia,[15] New Zealand,[14] Greek Dental School,[17] and South Indian Dental University.[20] Thus, it can be assumed that students are getting a positive working environment across globe and are having positive perceptions for their educational system. One of the major strengths of DREEM instruments is that individual weak areas can be identified and remedial measures such as stress counseling and assignment of teachers as mentors for group of students were done.

Limitations

Students' perceptions on both the occasions were in range on positive perception. Individual item analysis gave strength and weakness of the present curriculum and helped authorities to have the insight into problematic areas facing by students. One of the limitations of the present study was that the study was conducted only on 1st-year students with a smaller sample size. Further qualitative analysis would have given glimpse for changing perceptions within 1-year time period.

Recommendation

Further, similar studies need to be conducted in other institutes also so that from the beginning of the semester, teachers and authorities gauge perceptions of students and develop facilities for their overall progress.


  Conclusions Top


Within the limitations of the study, it can be concluded that students have positive perceptions for their academic environment with DREEM scores obtained on both the occasions found to be positive.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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Ahmad MS, Bhayat A, Fadel HT, Mahrous MS. Comparing dental students' perceptions of their educational environment in Northwestern Saudi Arabia. Saudi Med J 2015;36:477-83.  Back to cited text no. 13
    
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