Perceptions of Physiotherapy students about their teaching environment at Kamuzu University of Health Sciences in Malawi

Grace Mukoka-Bwezani1,2*, Nesto Tarimo1, Enock Madalitso Chisati1, Emma Thomson2

  1. Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, School of Life Sciences and Allied Health Professions, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Malawi.
  2. Teaching and Learning Development Centre, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Malawi

*Corresponding Authors: Grace Mukoka-Bwezani; E-mail:


The learning environment is defined as an environment where teaching is taking place, as perceived by both students and teachers. A conducive learning environment is critical for successful curriculum implementation, which also affects students’ academic performance. There have been initiatives introduced to improve the learning environment at Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS). The purpose of this study was to ascertain physiotherapy final year students’ perceptions of their learning environment at KUHeS in Malawi.
This study was conducted at KUHeS among final-year physiotherapy students. A retrospective, quantitative cross-sectional design was used. The study utilised secondary data on education environment which had already been collected using Dundee Ready Education Environment Measure (DREEM) forms. There were 26 completed DREEM forms for 2019/2020 academic year. Demographic data were captured. Mean and standard deviation were used to analyse the DREEM scores. Inferential analysis was conducted with p-value set at ≤ 0.05.
The total DREEM mean score was 120/200 which represented a positive perception of students learning environment. Students’ academic self-perception scored the highest (69.13%), followed by students’ perception of learning (61.94%), students’ social selfperception (59.46%), students’ perception of atmosphere (56.25), and students’ perception of teachers (55.50%). Married students had negative perceptions (p-value = 0.05) of their teachers and students with previous college experience had positive perceptions of their academic performance (p-value = 0.02). Many statements under items of perception of teachers (mean score = 24) and social self-perceptions (mean score = 16) were considered negatively.
Students in their final year of physiotherapy had positive perceptions of their learning environment. However, students’ perceptions of their teachers and social life were low. The learning environment had a significant impact on married students and those who had no prior experience with college life. Faculty development initiatives should aim to improve these critical areas.

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