Aim: To propose a strategy for improvement of undergraduate students’ learning environment based on analysis of their perceptions.

Methods: Medical, Pharmacy and Physiotherapy undergraduate students participated in the study. The study used a quantitative descriptive design, based on the Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure (DREEM) inventory. The University of South Africa and University of Zambia Ethics Committees provided ethical approval. Using stratified random sampling, participants were drawn from the Ridgeway Campus of the University. They responded to a demographic section and the 50 DREEM items. Data analysis included descriptive statistics on demographics, total and subscales DEEM scores and mean scores on individual items. Cronbach’s alpha and confirmatory factor analysis provided reliability and validity indices of the dataset. Specific issues derived from individual items’ scores were used to propose a strategy. 

Results: Total participants were 488 including 239 from Medicine, 135 from Pharmacy and 74 from Physiotherapy. Response rate was 95.5%. Mean total score was 119.3/200. Scores within subscales of perception of learning, perception of teachers, academic self-perception, perception of atmosphere, and social self-perception were 29.87/48, 26.29/44, 20.96/32, 27.26/48 and 14.86/14, respectively. Four strategic issues emerged from six items with mean scores below 2.0/4.0: lack of adequate social support for stressed students, substandard teaching and mentoring, unpleasant accommodation and inadequate facilities. Strategic objectives were raised and strategic options recommended from literature.

Conclusion: Strategic planning in medical and health professions education should consider learners’ concerns by analysing their learning environments.

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