Original Research

Clinical Associate students’ perception of the educational environment at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Abigail Dreyer, Audrey Gibbs, Scott Smalley, Motlatso Mlambo, Himani Pandya
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 7, No 1 | a778 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v7i1.778 | © 2015 Abigail Dreyer, Audrey Gibbs, Scott Smalley, Motlatso Mlambo, Himani Pandya | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 September 2014 | Published: 13 April 2015

About the author(s)

Abigail Dreyer, Centre for Rural Health, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Audrey Gibbs, Centre for Rural Health, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Scott Smalley, Centre for Rural Health, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Motlatso Mlambo, Centre for Rural Health, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Himani Pandya, Centre for Rural Health, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa and Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Division of Community Paediatrics, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: An important determinant of a student’s behaviour and performance is the school’s teaching and learning environment. Evaluation of such an environment can explore methods to improve educational curricula and academic atmosphere.

Aim: To evaluate the educational environment of the Bachelor of Clinical Medicine Practice programme as perceived by students at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

Setting: This cross-sectional study was conducted with all final-year students (n = 25) enrolled in 2011, with a response rate of 88% (n = 22). Students were in two groups based in the Gauteng and North-West provinces.

Methods: Data were collected using the Dundee Ready Educational Environmental Measure questionnaire, which was administered to all students. Total and mean scores for all questions were calculated for both groups.

Results: The learning environment was given an average score of 130/196 by the students. Individual subscales show that ‘Academic self-perception’ was rated the highest (25/32), whilst ‘Social self-perception’ had the lowest score (13/24). Positive aspects of the academic climate included: student competence and confidence development; student participation in class; constructive criticism provided; empathy in medical profession; and friendships created. Areas for improvement included: feedback provision to students; course time-tables; ensure non-stressful course; provision of good support systems for students; and social life improvement.

Conclusion: Students’ perceptions of their learning environment were ‘more positive’ than negative. Results from this study will be used to draw lessons for improving the curriculum and learning environment, improve administrative processes and develop student support mechanisms in order to improve their academic experience


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