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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 35  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 108-112

Assessment of online teaching–learning during coronavirus disease-19 pandemic: Medical students' perspective


1 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Chengalpet, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Member of the Medical Education Unit and Institute Research Council, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Chengalpet, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission13-Aug-2021
Date of Decision26-Aug-2021
Date of Acceptance10-Sep-2021
Date of Web Publication15-Jun-2022

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh R Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth - Deemed to be University, Tiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jms.jms_104_21

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  Abstract 


Background: During the corona virus disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic, most of the medical schools across the world has started to transfer the curriculum from face-to-face to online delivery using various virtual platforms for undergraduate teaching without any uniformity. It is imperative to understand the students' outlook about the current online teaching in order to make it more effective. This study was planned to gain an insight into the medical students' perspective toward online teaching–learning program and the challenges faced by them toward the same.
Materials and Methods: It was a cross-sectional descriptive study conducted for 3 months at a medical college in Chengalpet district, Tamil Nadu, among 351 medical students across all professional years. The Google form platform was used to administer a semi-structured questionnaire to all the participants to obtain information related to various parameters of online teaching-learning. The statistical analysis was done using frequency and percentages.
Results: A total of 351 students participated in this study, including 134 males and 217 females. Almost 318 (90.6%) perceived that online classes were able to cover academic portion amidst COVID-19 pandemic. The most common challenges found were network related issues, lack of practical sessions, including dissection and lack of exposure to clinical cases cited by 181 (90%), 77 (38.3%) and 72 (35.8%) participants, respectively.
Conclusions: The study reveals the perspectives of medical students on online teaching–learning sessions and identifies important challenges pertaining to it. However, the positive overall experience by the students provides confidence to the medical education fraternity in the entire process of online teaching and learning amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: Corona virus disease-19 pandemic, medical students, teaching–learning


How to cite this article:
Shrivastava PS, Shrivastava SR. Assessment of online teaching–learning during coronavirus disease-19 pandemic: Medical students' perspective. J Med Soc 2021;35:108-12

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava PS, Shrivastava SR. Assessment of online teaching–learning during coronavirus disease-19 pandemic: Medical students' perspective. J Med Soc [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jul 2];35:108-12. Available from: https://www.jmedsoc.org/text.asp?2021/35/3/108/347639




  Introduction Top


The World Health Organization declared coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) as a pandemic on March 11, 2020.[1] Over the past few months, COVID-19 has spread relentlessly as a pandemic across the world. Not only has it severely disrupted the lives of individuals all over the globe but also jeopardized the medical education system all over. As a part of prevention strategy for COVID-19, social distancing and stay at home orders were initiated across many countries in the world.[2] Subsequently, schools and colleges, including higher educational institutions were forced to close. In response to the pandemic, most medical schools across the world, has started to transfer the curriculum from face to face to online delivery using various virtual platforms.[3],[4],[5] This sudden unprecedented shift to online method of teaching has posed a challenge to both medical teachers as well as students who are used to the traditional face to face method of teaching –learning and do not possess much online experience.[6] Although faculty development is a key to ensure teachers can make effective use of different instructional strategies to engage students, from the students' perspective many challenges namely lack or poor internet connectivity, no dedicated place at home to attend sessions, and distractions are there which need to be addressed.[7],[8]

Although online learning or e learning is not entirely new entity as distance education courses were available in medical education since long time.[9],[10] In addition, it has been shown that online teaching is not inferior to regular face-to-face teaching.[11] This shifting of the entire base of medical education to virtual platform has led to various innovations in the field on online teaching, including peer-to-peer trainings, development of various e content, e learning materials, use of different online platforms for teaching and learning as well as online assessments, etc., However, challenge in lack of exposure to real patients or clinical posting is a major drawback of online teaching which cannot be overcome by use of any software.[12]

Currently, many colleges and universities have adopted various online platforms for undergraduate teaching without any uniformity. Some of the colleges are still in exploring stage while others have invested in learning management systems and using the best platforms for teaching purpose. Furthermore, various video-conferencing and online streaming companies have provided free access in these difficult times.[13],[14] Although most of these teaching and learning tools can be easily accessed, even from mobile phones, it is important to understand the students' outlook about the current online teaching. Hence, this study was planned to gain an insight into medical students' perspective toward online teaching–learning program and the challenges faced by them toward the same.


  Materials and Methods Top


Study design and settings

It was a cross-sectional descriptive study in a medical college in Chengalpet district, Tamil Nadu.

Study duration

Three months.

Study participants

Medical students across all professional years.

Sample size

It was calculated using the formula for cross sectional study-N = 4pq/L2, assuming P = 50; and adding 10% nonresponse rate; the minimum sample size was calculated as 225.

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Inclusion criteria comprised of willingness to give informed consent as well as completeness of the questionnaire. There were no exclusion criteria.

Data collection tool

A semi-structured questionnaire was prepared after reviewing the literature utilizing the Google form platform. Initial portion of the Google form was designed as informed consent explaining the study scope. Only once the students agreed to the informed consent, the questionnaire was made available to them for completion. The questionnaire was pilot tested among 25 students and based on their responses, the questionnaire was improved. These responses were not included in the final analysis.

Study variables

It included various study variables namely device used for accessing online classes, understanding level, perception about advantages and disadvantages of online teaching, challenges faced, etc.

Methodology

This Google form was circulated in the WhatsApp groups of each of the batches of MBBS namely 1st year, 2nd year, 3rd year, and final year to obtain the relevant data. Responses exceeding the minimum calculated sample size were also analyzed.

Ethical considerations

Institute Human Ethics Committee Clearance (IHEC-2020/614 dated July 15, 2020) was obtained before starting the study.

Statistical analysis

Data were analyzed using Google Form Summary Analysis. In addition, descriptive statistics was analyzed using Microsoft Excel. Frequency and percentages were used to represent the data.


  Results Top


A total of 351 students participated in this study which included 134 males and 217 females. Adequate representation from each year of MBBS was observed as we had majority of participants 97 (27.6%) from 2nd year followed by 94 (26.8%), 87 (24.8%) and 73 (20.8%) from final year, 3rd year and 1st year, respectively. Among the 351 participants, 343 (97.7%) participants were attending the online classes regularly.

[Figure 1] shows the device used by the participants for accessing online classes. Majority of the participants 287 (81.8%) were utilizing their mobile phones followed by use of laptops by 91 (24.9%) participants.
Figure 1: Device used by the participants for accessing online classes*. *Responses are not mutually exclusive

Click here to view


[Table 1] shows the perception of participants about online teaching–learning program. It was observed that about 59 (16.8%) participants did not feel comfortable with the online teaching–learning. In addition, most of the participants, 318 (90.6%) were of the perception that online classes have been able to cover academic portion amidst COVID-19 pandemic. However, majority of the participants, 291 (82.9%) opined that they missed the regular classroom teaching sessions. The participants also revealed various advantages of online classes over traditional classroom teaching namely comfort of own home 278 (79.2%), no distraction by peers 132 (37.6%), no frontbencher – backbencher 79 (22.5%), ease of clarifying doubts on chat 78 (22.2%), taking screenshots of slides 124 (35.3%), etc.
Table 1: Perception of participants about online teaching–learning

Click here to view


It was observed that 201 (57.3%) of the participants faced one or the other challenge during the online sessions. [Table 2] shows the various challenges encountered by participants during online teaching–learning sessions. The most common challenge was found to be network-related issues; as majority of the participants cited weak internet, 116 (57.7%) and lack of internet connectivity, 65 (32.3%) as the most prominent challenges. Other major difficulties faced were related to teaching and learning such as lack of practical sessions, including dissection and lack of exposure to clinical cases cited by 77 (38.3%) and 72 (35.8%) participants, respectively. Apart from these some of the participants, 68 (33.8%) mentioned that they were worried about their attendance while a few opined that they suffered eye strain, 42 (20.9%) and stress 23 (11.4%) due to increased screen time. A few of the participants experienced technical problems like audio issues during the classes, 43 (21.4%) and frequent power cuts leading to unavailability of Wi-Fi connections during classes, 29 (14.4%).
Table 2: Challenges encountered by participants during online teaching–learning (n=201)

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[Table 3] shows the constructive suggestions given by the participants for improvement in the ongoing online teaching–learning process. The most common suggestion provided by the participants was to share the class recordings or PowerPoint presentations with them by 142 (40.5%) followed by giving emphasis on clinical case presentations and discussions and practical demonstrations by 93 (26.5%) and 89 (25.4%) participants respectively. Some of the participants, 67 (19.1%) and 96 (27.4%) were also in favor of writing more assignments and online formative assessments, respectively.
Table 3: Constructive suggestions by the participants for improvement in online teaching–learning process (n=351)*

Click here to view


[Figure 2] shows the overall experience of the participants about the online teaching-learning process. It is evident that the majority of the participants rated the online sessions as satisfactory, 197 (56.1%) while only a few participants rated the classes as unsatisfactory, 16 (4.6%) or highly unsatisfactory, 8 (2.3%).
Figure 2: Participants' overall experience about the online teaching–learning process

Click here to view



  Discussion Top


In the present study, it was observed that majority of the participants 287 (81.8%) were utilizing their mobile phones, followed by use of laptops by 91 (24.9%) participants. It was also observed that some of the students were using multiple devices, maybe based on the availability of the device at home.

It was evident from the current study that most of the participants, 318 (90.6%), were happy about the fact that online classes have been able to cover academic portion amidst COVID-19 pandemic. However, majority of the participants, 291 (82.9%), opined that they missed the regular classroom teaching sessions. In a study done in Haryana, similar results were obtained where most of the students felt online classes were comfortable and enjoyable. In fact, almost all of them reported that online classes were a good deviation to avoid stress due to COVID-19.[15]

The present study identified common challenges faced by the students as network-related issues by 181 (90%), lack of practical sessions, including dissection, and lack of exposure to clinical cases cited by 77 (38.3%) and 72 (35.8%) participants, respectively. A few of the participants experienced technical problems like audio issues during the classes, 43 (21.4%) and frequent power cuts leading to unavailability of Wi-Fi connections during classes, 29 (14.4%). Similar challenges for online teaching, namely lack of infrastructure, unreliable internet connectivity, time constraints, and lack of tools for clinical teaching have also been identified in studies done in North India.[12],[15] Overcoming these inherent challenges of online teaching and learning, especially in the current COVID-19 pandemic is the need of the hour. Our study also reported lack of assignments and formative assessments by 24 (11.9%) and 36 (17.9%) participants as a drawback of online classes. Similarly, in a study done in Haryana, more than half the students reported lack of proper tests as a major challenge in online platform.[15] Similar challenges were also cited by a study done in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which included issues related student assessment, use of technology tools, and experience in online education.[16] Regular formative assessments help the students to focus more and revise the portions and motivate them for self-learning which was found missing in the online teaching–learning.

The present study also reported eye strain and stress by 42 (20.9%) and 23 (11.4%) participants, respectively. This can be mainly because of increased screen time for the participants as a result of regular online classes. Some of the participants also reported that they were unsure about their attendance percentage, 68 (33.8%) which may have led to additional stress for them. A study conducted in Riyadh also reported stress and anxiety in almost half of their respondents which is quite higher as compared to the present study.[16] It might be because the respondents in the other study included a wide range from students to faculty members; hence, the level of stress varied.

The present study also solicited suggestions from the participants to improve the online teaching–learning sessions. The responses reported were to share the class recordings or PowerPoint presentations with them by 142 (40.5%) followed by giving emphasis on clinical case presentations and discussions and practical demonstrations by 93 (26.5%) and 89 (25.4%) participants, respectively. Some of the participants, 67 (19.1%) and 96 (27.4%) were also in favor of writing more assignments and online formative assessments, respectively.

In the present study, majority of the participants rated the overall experience of the online sessions as satisfactory, 197 (56.1%) while only a few participants rated the classes as unsatisfactory, 16 (4.6%) or highly unsatisfactory, 8 (2.3%). Similar observations were made in the study conducted in Riyadh where most of the respondents were in favor of online classes and also blended learning.[16]


  Conclusions Top


The study reveals the perspectives of medical students on the online teaching–learning sessions. Although many challenges related to internet and technical issues, student and teaching-related issues pertaining to the online platform have been identified in the study, yet the positive overall experience by the students provides confidence to the medical education fraternity in the entire process of online teaching and learning amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Limitation and recommendation

The study had its limitations in the form that it was conducted in a single medical institute. Hence, the students' perspectives may differ at different institutes across the country. In addition, it was conducted in the initial days on the implementation of online teaching sessions when major emphasis was on teaching the theory aspects of the curriculum. Considering the prolonged nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is recommended to adopt online teaching-learning methods on a routine basis in the medical training.

Declarations

All the participants signed the written informed consent. In addition, Institute Human Ethics Committee Clearance (IHEC-2020/614 dated July 15, 2020) was obtained before starting the study.

Acknowledgments

I would like to acknowledge the students who participated in the study.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

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World Health Organization. WHO Director-General's Opening Remarks at the Media Briefing on COVID-19; 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19---11-March-2020. [Last accessed on 2021 Aug 13].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
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3.
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Tom T. The History of Online Education-Weblog; 2017. Available from: https://www.petersons.com/blog/the-history-of-online-education/. [Last accessed on 2021 Aug 13].  Back to cited text no. 9
    
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Chipps J, Brysiewicz P, Mars M. A systematic review of the effectiveness of videoconference-based tele-education for medical and nursing education. Worldviews Evid Based Nurs 2012;9:78-87.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
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Saiyad S, Virk A, Mahajan R, Singh T. Online teaching in medical training: Establishing good online teaching practices from cumulative experience. Int J Appl Basic Med Res 2020;10:149-55.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
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Taha M, Abdalla M, Wadi M, Khalafalla H. Curriculum delivery in medical education during an emergency: A guide based on the responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. MedEdPublish 2020;9:69.  Back to cited text no. 13
    
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Baig M, Gazzaz ZJ, Farouq M. Blended learning: The impact of blackboard formative assessment on the final marks and students' perception of its effectiveness. Pak J Med Sci 2020;36:327-32.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
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Verma A, Verma S, Garg P, Godara R. Online teaching during COVID-19: Perception of Medical Undergraduate Students. Indian J Surg 2020 Jun; 82(3):299-300.   Back to cited text no. 15
    
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Rajab MH, Gazal AM, Alkattan K. Challenges to online medical education during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cureus 2020;12:e8966.  Back to cited text no. 16
    


    Figures

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    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]



 

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