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Arch Hellen Med, 27(6), November-December 2010, 924-936


If you could change three things in your school, which would they be?
1,393 student proposals from six Greek medical schools

Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, School of Medicine, University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece

OBJECTIVE The ability of students to learn is affected, positively or negatively, by the quality of the educational environment (EE) of their school. The DREEM (Dundee Ready Education Environment Measure) questionnaire, a valid international non culturally specific generic instrument for measuring students' perceptions of undergraduate curricula in the health professions, has been translated into Greek and validated. The validation study and the preliminary results from the 50 closed questions have been reported elsewhere. The objective of this paper was to present the students' responses to the open question "if you could change three things in your school, which would they be?".

METHOD The data were derived from 592 DREEM questionnaires completed by students from 6 of the 7 Greek medical schools, representative for gender (41% male, 59% female) but not for year of study or school (first and second years 10%, third year 70%, fourth year and above 20%; Athens 2%, Crete 7%, Ioannina 35%, Thessaloniki 21%, Thessaly 19%, Thrace 16%). The students' written text was analyzed, employing methods of qualitative data analysis. During repeated interactive sessions between the researchers, the students' proposals were grouped into categories and subcategories according to their conceptual content, and their frequency was calculated.

RESULTS The changes which were proposed by the students numbered 1,393. They were related mainly to curriculum (552) and teachers (547), and much less to other elements (294). Students asked for increased practical experience (156), restructured and lightened timetable (87), cut-back of irrelevant subjects (67) and subject content (22); changes in the way of teaching (213) and of student assessment (172), and in teachers' attitudes (90) and the selection of teachers (37). Specifically, students asked for smaller teaching groups (22), encouragement of student participation (21), emphasis on the important and relevant (24), fair assessment (40), memorization reduction (19), student-teacher communication (37), and meritocracy in teachers' appointment (28). Students did not request changes among themselves, except a few who wanted restriction of the student political parties (15). No mention at all was made of their teachers' research activity, asylum, "eternal" students, or student participation in governing bodies, and only one of textbooks. Certain proposals, although made only once, were notable (e.g., teaching in systems, change to PBL, etc.).

CONCLUSIONS Medical students ask for a well organized curriculum and for their teachers to play the teaching-role, rather than the issues emphasized in the media (academic asylum, etc.) or by the faculty bodies (research). This may explain why they become stressed, bored in lessons, and parrot-like in their exams. Their wishes, if heeded, could also serve to re-orientate the disorientated student movement to become the major axis of the debate on the universities in Greece.

Key words: DREEM translation/validation, Educational environment/climate, Greece, Medical education, Medical school, Open-ended question, School evaluation/assessment, Student.

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