Self Assessment Toward Educational Environment
The educational climate surrounding students is considered as one of the factors determining academic success. Students and teachers have become aware of the ‘educational environment’ of their institution. Nursing science courses in Alexandria university and King Abd El Aziz University employ a combination of traditional classroom and clinical learning methods.
There is however a scarcity of empirical evidence that evaluates this balance or the way nursing students perceive its delivery. Aim:Therefore, this study aims to evaluate, nursing students’ self assdeement toward the overall educational environment within nursing courses in a nursing faculties that employs a balance of traditional classroom-based teaching and clinical work. Method: a short demographic questionnaire and the 50-item DREEM questionnairewas administered during teaching sessions to collect information on the students’ perception of the environment in their nursing faculty.
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Environmnent scores across the two different nursing faculties with a total DREEM mean score of 148.68 at Faculty of Nursig – King Abd El Aziz University and 149.32 at Faculty of Nursig – Alexandria University and also identified problem areas which centered on Social Self Perceptions, Academic Self-perception, and Perception of Course organizer.Formative assessment structure for students, attention to timetabling, improved administration, and systems to identify stressed students are our key recommendations.
The educational climate surrounding students is considered as one of the factors determining academic success (Ross, 2005). Though difficult to define (Genn & Harden, 1986), the educational climate or environment is seen by several authors as consisting of an objective external environment, everything that happens within the classroom, department, faculty or university (Roff & McAleer, 2001; Genn, 2001) and an internal subjective perception by the students (Ostapczuk et al, 2012).
In addition to the documented curriculum, students and teachers have become aware of the educational environment of the institution (Roff & McAleer, 2001), and their subjective perceptions constitute the climate (Till, 2005). Extensive investigation of the learning environment of nursing students has been carried out with a view to identifying strengths and weaknesses, to monitor change at times of curriculum reform, to compare learning environments across teaching sites and to compare staff and students’ perceptions.
The perception of these students of the environment within which they study has been shown to have a significant impact on their behaviour, academic progress and sense of well-being (Genn, 2001:2; Audin, Davy & Barkham, 2003). As such, the context of health science education as it is with medicine, has moved in recent decades to embrace a more student-centered curriculum.
Various methodologies have been utilized to investigate educational climate and recent studies have included the use of qualitative approaches or questionnaires. Of these, only the DREEM (Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure) questionnaire is specific to the unique environment experienced by students on medical and healthcare-related courses.
The educational environment could be student-centered or teacher-centered learning environment. Student-centered environment encourages students to be active participant, using two ways of transmission of information through discussion for clarifying ideas, expressions, contents and exchanging experience to sustain student’s improvement and creativity. While, teacher-centered learning environment is focused on enhancing teacher’s skills which in turn improve teaching process. Teacher is acting with the students unidirectional, giving them information with no or little chance for student’s participation.
Teacher is the one who is responsible for maintaining educational system, his main role is to manage and transferring changes using new technologies and advanced methods of teaching. So, teacher in need to acquire new competencies either scientifically or socially. Scientific competence requires teacher to be knowledgeable, creative, innovative, consultant and expert in setting learning plan to achieve the institution’s goals. 0n the other hand, socially-situated competencies consider providing proper guidance to students that shape the Personal Learning Environment (PLE).
Personal learning environment is concerned with using an appropriate number of individuals and resources in order to maintain continuous and proper ongoing learning process. Universities are caring for their students’ perception to achieve academic success and productive educational environment. They supports engaging students in assessment of learning for improving their achievement, reinforce active participation as well as ensure motivating learning environment.
In addition, it acts as a cornerstone to direct the educational climate to be more effective and decrease students’ barriers and dissatisfaction in their learning environment. Learning environment barriers constitute three levels, one for the whole organization as strategic plan and administrative policies and decisions. The second one is refers to technical and managerial support, guidance, motivation, positive work environment and the third level is point out communication, psychological and sociological barriers.
This may show that those nursing faculties, though using a traditional approach, is fairly innovative in its methods. The curriculum alone may therefore not be the sole determinant of students’ perception of learning environment. The faculty support and students’ motivation to learn are considered as factors that also influence the positive outcomes despite the traditional approach used in those nursing faculties.The positive perception of the learning environment was shared by students of both nursing faculties.
Several elements of educational environment were identified as an improvement areas based on mean scores for the elements across the the two Faculties of Nursing. Elements of Social Self Perceptions, Academic Self-perception, and Perception of Course organizers relates to attitudes of teachers. The reason for low score will probably be that students have limited contact with patients , academic staff and colleges, they would not be able to give practical opinions about these elements. This is similar to results of two other studies on dental students using the DREEM questionnaire (Thomas et al,2009; Ali et al, 2012). Avalos (2007) suggested that low scores for this item could be a reflection of the stressful situations seen with lectures and tight clinical schedule especially for the clinical students.
It may also be a reflection of administrative resources or a lack of coordination between staff within the faculty office and the academic staff. Similar perceptions were also noted in the final year dental students in an Indian dental school (Thomas et al, 2009). This may not be unrelated to the congested lecture schedule and clinical requirements of supervised patients needed by the students to qualify to sit for the final examination in the faculty.
Sofola and Jeboda (2006) in a study among Nigerian dental students identified lack of time for relaxation; amount of assigned work; and receiving criticism from supervisors, respectively as the three highest sources of stress as also indicated in a previous study in Greek dental students (Polychronopoulou & Divaris, 2005). In teacher competency studies, lecturing and learning are two learning tasks that surface repeatedly.
Several researchers, viz. Downes (2010), Minocha et al. (2011), Alvarez et al. (2009), and Thach & Murphy (1995) argue that a lecturer organizes larger bodies of thought into a comprehensible whole, and employs the oratory skills and exposition to make the complex clear for students. Siemens & Tittenberger (2009) observed that a lecturer or instructor must be an expert learner. Related to lecturing and instructing is the very critical competency of theorizing and demonstrating.
A demonstrator uses some equipments, models and simulations, or movies, to use the suitable teaching and learning methods to support students’ change odf attitude, while a theorizer, as noted by Downes (2010), “leads students develop world views, find the underlying cause or meaning of things, create order out of what appears to be chaos, and help them remember things by giving a single structure”. “teachers need to get accustomed to and trained on their new role as partners and facilitators in learning processes, rather than lecturers to cope with the new advances in the educational environment , as well as the different types of students “.
Minocha et al. (2011) add that one of the changing roles that this new learning phenomenon has created for teachers is that of a facilitator who help learners adapt their educational environment, scaffold learning, and manage the content before it becomes more complex (Global Teacher, 2010). Attwell (2009) stresses that, in learning environment process, coordination, collaboration, cooperation, communication, connection, and integration between teacher and students is important. Pe?±a-L??pez (2010) puts emphasis on teacher’s coordination role and notes that coordinator supplies a framework in which learners collaborate, connect, and integrate with each other more flexibly.
Mullen (2010) and McLoughlin & Lee (2010) suggested in their studies that leadrning environment demands teacher to act as , a) coach, who provides learners with access to a variety of independent learning experiences, b) concierge, who directs learners to learning opportunities that they mean to be aware of, serves to provide a form of soft guidance, and permits them to explore on their own, c) evaluator, who not only assesses declarative knowledge and compositional ability, but the instinct, reaction, sociability, habit, and attitude of students in relation to their learning, and, d) goal setter, who assists learners in taking control of their learning and education, and scaffolds them to realize their goals.
In summary, the current study highlighted several important findings. Even though the total Educational Environment score was in the more positive than negative category, it was still lower than a supposedly ‘excellent’ educational environment. Use of the DREEM as a regular monitoring tool would permit timely interventions to remediate problematic areas, which translates into improved student perceptions of the educational experience.
Continuous quality improvement and innovation are essential in the Nursing Faculties. For the study subjects and settings, the problem areas centre on self-social perception, academic perception and course organizer perception emphasis on factual learning, boredom and stress. Formative assessment structure for students, attention to timetabling, improved administration, and systems to identify stressed students are key recommendations. The result of this study can be used as preliminary data for future comparative studies.