The DREEM (Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure) questionnaire is sent out to university students for the first time. The goal is a status assessment, that serves as the basis for both a yearly evaluation and a comparison between different analyses. We discussed the topic with Zsombor Mátyás Papp, Officer for Education at the Students’ Union (SU).
Szinapszis: When did it occured to you, that the SU could ask students about these conditions with this questionnaire?
P. Zs. M.: We can’t be there in every situation, or even if we are we might evaluate them differently. Our job as the SU isn’t to vindicate our conceptions, but to try connecting with students, to gather their ideas and to represent them towards the decision makers of the university. For this it is inevitable to ask them about their situation with these questionnaires.
Sz: If I’m correct, the questionnaire is based on a collaboration with the CEM (Centrum for Educational Methodologies), could you tell us a bit more about that?
P. Zs. M.: The CEM working at EOK ‘till this date, was an idea of Mr. László Hunyady, the dean of GM. Most of the teachers at the faculty don’t have a degree in teaching, and it became clear that the previously held traditions and culture that was common 50 or 100 years ago like going to classes and listening for hours isn’t working anymore the way it did before. Students need new methodologies, new approaches in the 21th century, and many teachers are not prepared for these. It’s the Centrum’s responsibility and mission, to help teachers for finding new methods and opportunities within education, be that interactivity, problem-based learning and the promotion of online platforms and e-learning. They have a lot of projects and they work on assuring the quality as well. They’re focusing in the individual teaching methods of departments and teachers too, but nobody is really focusing on how the students feel themselves at the university, how is their situation and the environment surrounding them. They came up with using the questionnaire, and following the steps of Szeged, we think it’s important to introduce it at Semmelweis University too. Since several studies have proved several approaches for evaluating the results – especially at universities teaching health sciences, we are trying to make this happen at every faculty in every language. We try to evaluate the data based on demographics as well, especially international students, to see the priorities and the needs of the different cultures. We want to get feedback about the buildings, what do students prefer and why they do. Based on these best practices, we can start gathering our aces to target departments with the exact needs of the students.
Sz: What is there to know about the questionnaire?
P. Zs. M.: There is a part of the questionnaire, that focuses on the student-teacher relations with questions like: how much inspiration and value do the students get during classes, how inspiring and motivating is the environment, how practical the curriculum is, how do students get involved, how much do students feel they’re prepared for their future, that they learn what they’ll need, how much confidence do the departments/teachers give to them, how well is the time managed for classes, how much social time do they have to connect with their peers? Besides these there are several questions about social life, mental health, loneliness and peer to peer interactions. All this will be published in early April, students having around two weeks to give feedback. After that we’ll be busy evaluating the answers, and by the end of April we’ll have some of the first feedback at hand.
Sz.: If feedback, what kind of results are you expecting? Many people feel, that it is not worth filling out, because they won’t be heard, it won’t have an impact.
P. Zs. M.: Since we never had something like this before, this is a solely prospective research, meaning that the questionnaire will have an effect on the university in the long run: when we’ll have the next one next year, we’ll be able to compare the data, and to evaluate changes. This first time is important, because it will define a baseline, to which we’ll be able to benchmark the following years. What I can promise is, that by end of April we’ll work out an action plan with the CEM and we’ll present it to the decision makers. With this the focus can be set, and they can take it into consideration during the new curriculum planning, and they’ll be able to compare the changes to the effects. This will be an important feedback for both the leaders of the university and the SU as well. I hope that many people feel, that there is plenty of room for improvement from the university’s side, that could serve both the students and the teachers. Unfortunately we experienced that students did lost confidence about taking some time filling out these questionnaires, because they fear the leaders will negate their needs. We are working on this but it is still challenging, these processes take year sometimes. It is important however to communicate to them, that we’re not throwing out these valuations, but that it takes time to implement the changes.