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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 42-47

Dental students persepctive towards a learning environment and in determining the learning barriers


Department of Public Health Dentistry, SIBAR Institute of Dental Sciences, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India

Date of Submission16-Oct-2018
Date of Acceptance13-Feb-2019
Date of Web Publication26-Apr-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Vikram Simha Bommireddy
Department of Public Health Dentistry, SIBAR Institute of Dental Sciences, Guntur - 522 509, Andhra Prades
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/JDRNTRUHS.JDRNTRUHS_97_18

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  Abstract 


Background: Dental education is relatively complex, demanding and a unique pedagogical procedure. The purpose of this study was to determine dental student's perception of the learning environment and to determine the learning barriers among dental students in a private college located in Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh.
Materials and Methods: The source of the data includes 306 dental under-graduate students, from academic years 1-4. There are divided into two groups i.e. 159 pre-clinical students and 147 clinical students. They were posed with a validated structured questionnaire, which includes 28 closed ended questions along with questions on 3 different domains i.e. administrative, academic and environmental learning barriers.
Results: The overall response rate is 100%. At the administrative level, maximum number of students identified that there was poor academic guidance for the students during courses registration given and there are inadequate extra-curricular activities for the students such as conferences, workshops and seminars. At academic level, 20.6% dental students proposed that questions in the exam are depending on memorising rather than understanding and analysing. 12.2% of the clinical students stated that there was lack of appropriate teaching strategies of the lecturers which are acting as learning barriers. As environmental factors, most of the students agree that inadequate number of computers and the unavailability of internet connection, unavailability of entertainment facilities that motivate the learning process and that the laboratories aren't equipped in terms of space and equipment's for training which would affect the learning process.
Conclusion: This study has emphasized on the factors which requires improvement with respect to student's perspective. These learning barriers are to be noted by the educational institutions and the required modifications are done in the infrastructure as well as in the curriculum proposed to the students. Better dental education will instill positive reinforcement, social well-being and a better professional and personality development in the dental students which would guide them into their future.

Keywords: Academic training, barriers, dental, environment, students


How to cite this article:
Gayathri P, Gayathri L, Sai D S, Bommireddy VS, Chand Y S. Dental students persepctive towards a learning environment and in determining the learning barriers. J NTR Univ Health Sci 2019;8:42-7

How to cite this URL:
Gayathri P, Gayathri L, Sai D S, Bommireddy VS, Chand Y S. Dental students persepctive towards a learning environment and in determining the learning barriers. J NTR Univ Health Sci [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Jun 26];8:42-7. Available from: http://www.jdrntruhs.org/text.asp?2019/8/1/42/257173




  Introduction Top


Dental education is relatively complex and requires academic excellence, clinical and interpersonal skills based on the academic curriculum given by educational institution.[1] Various studies reported that dental students are not satisfied with their provided curriculum and face too many of the learning barriers.[2] Learning and education are quite interrelated and one of the greatest challenges that teachers face in their work is the assessment of student learning.[3] The educators in an institution, they take all the necessary steps to make the learning process simple for the students. Even after taking necessary precautions, there are few situations where barriers exist between the educators and the students.[4] These barriers when analysed and assessed can be removed from the situation and provide with a good learning process.

Learning barriers can be in the form of lack of confidence about one-self, or interest in the subject, lack of information about opportunities to learn and improper communication between the educator and the student.[5] Learner should be able to analyse the problem with him/her to change the learning pattern for a better future, otherwise a barrier is possible. If the learner is not able to reduce or minimise the barrier, it is the responsibility of an educator/teacher to see or analyse the barrier with the student and improvise accordingly.[3]

Education in medical and dental graduates reflects their practical approach towards the patients. It helps in guiding with their clinical education and also improves their efficiency. This would equally build confidence in students to provide an accurate diagnosis and patient centered health. Good dental education provided would minimize the barriers and further more satisfies the guidelines of the university.[6]

Educational barriers are of three types – Institutional barriers, situational barriers, and dispositional barriers. Learning barriers may start affecting from early stages, and continue throughout the educational processes. So, analysis of such barriers may enable an educator to go deep into such educational phenomenon and enable the student to cope up with. In spite of the fact that, various analysis are done and necessary parameters are taken into account in medical education process to improvise the teaching and learning processes, still the situation of teaching and learning barriers exists.[7]

In order to accurately assess students, educators must first determine the goal of the assessment. Measuring or assessing would allow educators to determine the barrier provided in order to accurately measure the student's ability to demonstrate the goal of the assessment. Therefore, it would be beneficial for the educator to focus on a single means of assessment that would help the students in better understanding of the subject and also to apply it in a clinical education. In order to come to a single assessment, students are provided with multiple options, so that they can analyze the factor in which they are lacking.

So, the present study utilised three different variables like administrative, academic and environmental factors. Based on these factors, the study was conducted to determine the various learning barriers and also to increase the awareness of these learning barriers among dental graduates in a private college in Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh.


  Materials and Methods Top


The present study conducted was a cross sectional study done using self-administered, structured, pretested and validated questionnaire, (Chronbach's alpha 0.88, Content validity 0.81) among the dental students in a private college in Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh.

Study population

The source of the data includes 306 dental under-graduate students conveniently selected from a dental college located in the coastal Andhra Pradesh, whilst students from academic years 1-4 were randomly approached, explained about the procedure and questionnaire. Students who are willing to participate and are present on the day of the study were included in the study. Ethical clearance was obtained from Institutional Ethical Committee for Research with reference number 180/UG/Sibar/IEC.

Data collection

The data were collected during the academic year 2017 between the months of September and October, while data collection was done using a validated, structured questionnaire that consisted of 28 closed-ended questions, which accounts for learning barriers. These questions are divided into 3 different variables i.e. administrative, academic and environmental factors. Each question was calibrated on a 4 point Likertscale ranging from very much disagrees to very much agree.

Data analysis

The data collected was tabulated and statistically analyzed using IBM Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, version 20 software. Chi-square test was used to assess statistical significance and a P value of <0.05 was considered significant.


  Results Top


Demographic characteristics of subjects

The general characteristics of participants are listed in [Table 1]. Total numbers of individuals enrolled in the present study are 306 and the total number of males constitutes 18% and females constitute 82%. Out of 306 students, 52% of the individuals are under pre-clinical dentistry and 48% are in clinical dentistry.
Table 1: The Demographic Characteristics Of Subjects

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Administrative variables

[Table 2] shows the frequency of 8 items on learning barriers related to administrative variables. The higher percentage of students commented that most of the administrative factors are not the predominant learning barriers. Only 13.8% of the pre-clinical students have mentioned that there was poor academic guidance for the students during course registration and 13.8% of the pre-clinical students and 12.2% of clinical students are in very much agreement that there are inadequate extra-curricular activities for the students such as conferences, workshops and seminars.
Table 2: Administrative Variables

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Academic variables

[Table 3] shows the frequency of ten items on learning barriers related to academic variables. Out of 52% of preclinical students and 48% of clinical students, 17% of preclinical and 13.6% of clinical students are in very much agreement that the questions in the exam are depending on memorising rather than understanding and analysing. 12.2% of the clinical students very much agree that there is a lack of appropriate teaching strategies of the lecturers, which are acting as learning barriers.
Table 3: Academic Variables

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Environmental variables

[Table 4] shows the frequency of ten items on learning barriers related to environmental variables. Most of the preclinical and clinical students commented that the environmental variables are the predominant barriers with respect to learning. 46.5% of preclinical and 38.8% of clinical students agree that inadequate number of computers as the main barrier for learning. 44.7% of preclinical and 40.8% of clinical students agree that the unavailability of internet connection would limit the amount of information and knowledge about a particular topic in learning process. 39% of preclinical and 34.7% of clinical students agree that there was unavailability of entertainment facilities that motivate the learning process. 37.1% of preclinical students and 37.4% of clinical students agree that the laboratories aren't equipped in terms of space for training, which would affect the learning process. 38.4% of preclinical students and 31.3% of clinical students agree that one of the barriers in learning can be because of limited importance for sports and cultural activities.
Table 4: Environmental Variables

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  Discussion Top


Learning skills differ for each individual and so are the learning barriers. Quality of education is always a primary goal of any educational institution, which means that the ability to produce better results in cognition, affection and skill of the students.[8] These can be achieved by organizing workshops which helps in recognizing the learning barriers faced by students and their measures. The main benefit of this assessment would be to provide a direction to their teaching methods and also to focus on such barriers.[3]

As teaching and learning are interrelated, they become more effective when the solution to the problems and needs of the learner are found. Faculty participation plays a vital role in dental education as an educator.[9],[10] In active work-based learning programs; teacher promotes the skills of the learner by active participation in the workshops. These teaching and learning strategies would help the dental students towards a self-directed learning and also in the application of learned subject into patients. This method of faculty involvement makes students more comfortable and provides a nonthreatening environment and deeper understanding of the subject.[11]

Proper assessment procedures would drive and stimulate deep learning. In an academic environment, where assessment has clear objectives, provides immediate feedback to students, which in turn fulfills the goals and also comprises an essential part of the educational process.[12]

Some of the challenges that are listed by the students, indicates that there is an existence of barriers in their learning activities. This has been rated in various degrees in different workshops conducted. Some of the rates are graded from “very much disagree” to “very much agree” and others would follow low, intermediate and high. But all the variables show the same degree of effectiveness with respect to barriers assessment.

The ratings given by the dental students are analyzed and should facilitate in gathering information on the factor for which the maximum number of dental students in an institution are facing problems with and for which, proper strategies are to be developed by the educators, administration, parents and the student himself/herself.

Maximum number of students rated that most of the environmental factors and few academic factors as learning barriers. Of which, most of the students commented that unavailability of computers and lack of internet connection are restricting their knowledge and gives lack of understanding of subject as internet play a major role in todays education. Other group of people commented that lack of entertainment, sports, extracurricular activities and inadequate equipment for training in laboratories as one of the major learning barriers.

Involvement of students in extracurricular activities like sports and music etc. would help in achieving a good academic performance. Fujita 2006 has conducted a study to know the relationship between extracurricular activities and academic performance. Resulted in concluding that increased extracurricular activity participation, is associated with an improved grade point average, higher educational aspirations and increased college attendance. So, it is important for the teachers and the institution to integrate the extracurricular activities in the curriculum, which motivates and increase the student's perception towards the subjects.[13]

Many of the dental students in the present study also commented that there are some academic barriers which would interfere with their learning process i.e. the exams conducted requires memorizing of the answers rather than understanding and lack of teaching strategies by the faculty. Ideal dental education should be such, that helps the students to learn the theoretical, clinical skills and able to apply them to the clinical experiences which would simulate the future dental practice after graduation.[1] So, it is role of teachers in educating the students in a conceptual manner rather than memorizing the answers as these would guide them to future. Faculty can also guide the students to have group discussions which would facilitate good understanding of the subject, improves the communication skills, removes fear of exams and which further improves learning. Also, based on the learning styles of the students, educational content of various modes is to be made available by the educators.

Future research needs to focus on large number of dental students regarding their perspectives towards a learning environment and in determining the learning barriers.


  Conclusion Top


Hence, a dental education should not only focus on the psychological and physical health but also on the social well being of the individual, along with professional and personal development. The learning barriers listed by the students are to be properly analyzed and the necessary changes are to be done in the curriculum by the educational institutions. They must also focus on instilling the curriculum in a scientifically based, clinically relevant, and in an innovative manner to include different methods that suit the individual learning styles of the students.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Divaris K, Barlow PJ, Chendea SA, Cheong WS, Dounis A, Dragan IF, et al. The academic environment: The students' perspective. Eur J Dent Educ 2008;12 Suppl 1:120-30.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
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Jain L, Jain M, Mathur A, Paiwal K, Duraiswamy P, Kulkarni S, et al. Perceptions of dental students towards learning environment in an Indian scenario. Dent Res J (Isfahan) 2010;7:56-63.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
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Gallo AM, Sheehy DA, Patton K, Griffin L. Assessment benefits and barriers: What are you committed to? J Phys Educ Recreat Dance 2006;77:46-50.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
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Khan IA. An analysis of learning barriers: The Saudi Arabian context. Int Educ Stud 2011;4:242-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
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Lieb S, Goodlad J. Principles of Adult Learning. Available from: https://www.petsalliance.org/sites/petsalliance.org/files/Lieb%201991%20Adult%20Learning%20Principles.pdf. [Last retrieved on 2018 May 20].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
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McGaghie WC, Issenberg SB, Petrusa ER, Scalese RJ. A critical review of simulation-based medical education research: 2003-2009. Med Educ 2010;44:50-63.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
DaRosa DA, Skeff K, Friedland JA, Coburn M, Cox S, Pollart S, et al. Barriers to effective teaching. Acad Med 2011;86:453-9.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Lee IC. The effect of learning motivation, total quality teaching and peer-assisted learning on study achievement: Empirical analysis from vocational universities or colleges' students in Taiwan. J Hum Resour Adult Learn 2010;6:56.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Jahan F, A ASiddiqui M, Al-Khouri MA, AhujaA, Manhal Al-Ward M. Active Teaching and Learning Strategies in Medical Education: Perception and Barriers among Faculty Members at Oman Medical College, Sohar/Bowshar Sultanate of Oman. TJFM&PC 2016;10:13-18.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
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Ernst H, Colthorpe K. The efficacy of interactive lecturing for students with diverse science backgrounds. Adv Physiol Educ 2007;31:41-4.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Lom B. Classroom activities: Simple strategies to incorporate student-centered activities within undergraduate science lectures. J Undergrad Neurosci Educ 2012;11:A64-71.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
McLachlan JC. The relationship between assessment and learning. Med Educ 2006;40:716-7.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
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Fujita, K. The Effects of Extracurricular Activities on the Academic Performance of Junior High Students, Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences. 2006: 5, 1-16.  Back to cited text no. 13
    



 
 
    Tables

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



 

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