Attitude of Optometry Students towards Their Field of Study and Job Prospects

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Refractive Errors Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

2 Department of Optometry, School of Paramedical Science, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

3 Department of Health Information Technology, School of Paramedical Sciences, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

4 Department of Midwifery, School of Nursing & midwifery, ShahidBeheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

Abstract

Abstract
Background and Objective: In general, understanding and willingness to act toward a certain thing is called the attitude toward that thing. Individuals’ attitudes change in different periods of life according to their environment. One of the stages of life that has the most change of attitude and interest is the period of studying. This research was conducted to survey the attitude of optometric students about their field of study.
Methods: This cross-sectional descriptive-analytical study was performed on all optometric undergraduate students at Mashhad University of Medical Sciences using a census method in the academic year of 2016-2017. Of the total of 88 students, 2 of them did not respond to the questionnaire. The data on a total of 86 people were gathered. The data gathering method was a questionnaire which had been evaluated for reliability and validity. Questionnaire questions were scored based on three-point Likert scale. Data were analyzed by SPSS version 22 using descriptive statistics (frequency distribution, mean and standard deviation) and analytical test (Kolmogorov-Smirnov).
Results: The mean and standard deviation of students' attitude to their academic field was 2.35±0.319. The mean score of students' attitude to the field of study with a probability of 95% was between 2.05 and 2.65 (out of 3); therefore, attitude towards the academic field was statistically positive. Also, the mean and standard deviation of students' attitudes toward job prospects was 2.45±0.319. The mean of the student's attitude towards job prospects with a probability of 95% was between 2.24 and 2.66, indicating a positive attitude of the students towards their job prospects. In a pilot study of the meaning of the student's attitude score, in response to a question surveying their attitude towards their field of study scoring from 1 to 10, a score of 8 was obtained.
Conclusion: According to the results of the study, the majority of students had a positive attitude towards their academic field. These results can make the policy makers' attitudes more realistic to develop methods that enhance the professional, scientific and motivation of these students.
 

Keywords

Main Subjects


Introduction

In general, understanding and willingness to act toward a certain thing is called the attitude toward that thing. Success in any task and achieving a goal requires a positive attitude towards that goal or action, and various factors are effective in shaping or changing these attitudes (1). Higher education is the cornerstone of humanity in each country. Universities are the most important educational places that prepare students for various professions by providing various education and communication (2). On the other hand, concern about the job prospects are recently seen in various fields, especially in medical sciences, it is seen as a major concern in society (3).

In this regard, to make constructive changes, descriptive information about the current status and knowledge of students' attitudes towards their field of study is necessary. Using this information, it is possible to increase the satisfaction of students in the field of study by reinforcing positive factors and correcting the negative factors (4).

Job motivation is considered as useful, effective, and essential. If a person is not interested in his job, continued employment will be tedious and sometimes impossible. Therefore, there is a relationship between job motivation and job success (5). On the other hand, attention should be paid to factors related to education such as term and field of study along with the attitude to the field and job prospect (6).

In their study, Avramoav et al. state that 73 percent of Bulgarian dental students were pleased with the choice of dentistry as their future career, believing that dentistry has a high status in society (7).

The results of the study on assessing the attitude of health students about their field of study and their job prospect at Zahedan University of Medical Sciences indicated that the majority of students chose the field of health with interest, but during education, the attitude of the majority (41.2%) has changed in a negative way. 33.8% of them complained about job insecurity (8).

Also, according to the results of the studies, the attitude of health students (8) and nursing students (9) towards their academic field was positive. In a study on the attitude of 96 environmental health students in Hamedan, the mean scores of attitudes towards the job prospect were lower than the acceptable limit, which indicates a lack of favorable attitude towards the job prospect, while this study showed that most students had an acceptable attitude towards their field of study (10). The study of Abdollahzadeh et al. regarding the attitude of the operating room students towards their field of study showed a positive attitude of most (58.1) students (11).

Initial research by the authors suggests that research in this field has not been conducted in the country; therefore, research in the field of optometry students' attitude towards job prospects can be valuable. If people have a positive attitude to what they are doing, their work efficiency increases and, consequently, the quality of social activities becomes noticeable. Considering the mentioned issues and the importance of the attitude of students as the final customers of the educational system, this study was conducted with the aim of investigating the attitude of optometry students of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences towards their academic field.

Methods

This is a descriptive-analytic study that examines the attitude of optometric students of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences during the first semester of the academic year 2016-2017 in terms of their academic field. Sampling method was the census. The statistical population was all optometry undergraduate students in the first semester of the academic year 2016-2017. Of the total sample of 88 people, 2 people did not respond to the questionnaire. Data on a total of 86 people were gathered. The inclusion criteria were undergraduate students of optometry of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences and exclusion criteria were MSc students, PhD students, and students who did not want to participate in the study.

The data gathering tool was a questionnaire, which reliability and validity had been reviewed by Alizad et al. (12). At first, the questions of this questionnaire were changed in accordance with the optometry field. Subsequently, four faculty members of optometry re-evaluated it for validity and content, and after the information was collected, the proposed corrections were applied. Then, for testing the reliability of the questionnaire by a statistical test again, it was completed by 12 students from different grades of optometry and then its reliability was assessed using Cronbach's alpha test (α = 0.8).

 The questionnaire consists of two parts. In the first part, personal characteristics (semester of education, marital status, high school field, occupation and education of parents, economic status, place of residence, type of university entrance) were studied. The most important questions of the second part of the questionnaire were questions about attitude of students towards their study field and job prospects. The questionnaire consisted of 8 questions about attitude towards th eoptometry field and 16 questions about attitude towards job prospects. Answers were based on the three-point Likert scale (I agree, I have no idea, I disagree) and the answers were ranked 1 to 3. After being gathered, data were analyzed by SPSS version 22. Descriptive statistics (frequency distribution, mean, and standard deviation) and analytical statistics (Kolmogorov-Smirnov) were used to analyze the data. In order to examine whether the two types of attitudes are equal or not in all aspects of each underlying variable, the assumption of the normality of the attitude test must first be tested. Therefore, the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test was used and the results of the test have been always indicative of having the scores of both attitudes in all aspects of the underlying variables. Therefore, the hypothesis testing strategy was developed in such a way that if the two groups were compared, the U-Mann-Whitney test and if more than the two groups were compared, Kruskal-Wallis test was used. It should be noted that the first type error was considered α=0.05 and given the two-sidedness of the required tests, which are given in Tables 3 and 4, the P-value was 0.025.

Prior to the study, oral consent was obtained from all students for participation in the study and they were assured that the data were collected without name and only for use in research. The research was approved at the Regional Ethics Committee of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences (Ethics Code: IR.MUMS.REC.1395.625).

RESULTS

In the present study, 60 people (69.8%) were women and 26 (30.2%) were men. The majority of people (90.7%) were in the age group of 18 to 23 years old. Demographic characterstics of students are mentioned in Table 1.

Table 1. Frequency distribution of demographic characteristics of the studied optometric students

Variable

Variable Forms

No. (Percent)

High school field

Mathematics

3 (3.5%)

Experimental Sciences

82 (95.3%)

Father’s job

Self-employed

33 (38.4%)

Government job

50 (58.1%)

Mothers’ job

House-keeper

66 (76.7%)

Government job

20 (23.3%)

Father’s education

Diploma

35 (40.7%)

BSc

26 (30.2%)

Mother’s education

Diploma

49 (57%)

BSc

12 (14%)

Place of residence

House

26 (30.2%)

Dormitory

60 (69.8%)

Marital status

Married

12 (14%)

Single

74 (86%)

The mean and standard deviation of students' attitude towards academic field was 2.35±0.319 and the minimum and maximums scores of students' attitude were 1.63 and 3, respectively. The mean and standard deviation of students' attitude toward job prospect was 2.45±0.319 and the minimum and maximum attitude scores were 1.88 and 2.88, respectively.

Table 2. Frequency distribution of the attitude of optometric students at Mashhad University of medical sciences towards their field of study

Students' attitude towards their field of study

I Agree

No. (Percent)

No Idea

No. (Percent)

I Disagree

No. (Percent)

1 - My grades only allowed admission in this field.

29 (33.7)

20 (23.3)

37 (43)

2 - I am satisfied with the choice of this field.

65 (75.6)

19 (22.1)

1 (1.2)

3 - The objectives of the courses offered are tailored to individual needs.

39 (45.3)

28 (32.6)

18 (20.9)

4. My interest in the field has now increased.

70 (81.4)

11 (12.8)

5 (5.8)

5. Students of other fields have a positive opinion about my field.

69 (80.2)

14 (16.3)

3 (3.5)

6. The community in which I live have a positive idea of the field.

36 (41.9)

29 (33.7)

20 (23.3)

7. The possibility to continued education in higher degrees is low.

30 (34.9)

19 (22.1)

37 (43)

8. This field is worth more in higher levels.

34 (39.5)

25 (29.1)

27 (31.6)

As Table 3 shows, students' attitude to the academic field is significant for the academic year (P = 0.022). The more the academic year goes, the better students' attitude toward their academic field, this improvement is more significant in the second and fourth year students.

Table 3. Results of the test of the equality of the type of attitudes in all aspects of the main variables of research

Variable

Aspects of Variable

No. of Subjects

Significance of attitude towards academic field

Significance of attitude towards job prospects

Notes

Academic Year

First Year

22

0.022*

0.903

The more the academic year goes, the better students' attitude toward their academic field.

Second Year

23

Third Year

22

Fourth Year

19

Quota of Entrance

With Quota

9

0.049

0.849

The P-value indicates that the difference of attitudes toward the field of study in the two groups are not significant (but the P-value is relatively small).

Free

76

Revised Quota

With Quota

8

0.021*

Conducting the test does not make sense here.

After eliminating the attitude score of one of the students which had a greater disparity than others, P-value decreased significantly.

Free

76

* It is significant (P<0.025).


Regarding the university entrance quota variable, the attitude of the 50th row student who was in the quota group and had to have a high attitude towards his degree was different from that of the other members of his group. After removing the person from the 50th row, the attitude towards the field of study was significant (P = 0.021).

Table 4 shows the improvement of the attitude towards the academic field by increasing the monthly income of the family, but the relationship between the monthly income of the family and the attitude toward the study field is not significant.

Table 4. Results of the test of the equality of the type of attitudes regarding household income

Notes

Significance of attitude towards job prospects

Significance of attitude towards field

No. of Subjects

Variable Aspects

Variable Name

It was noted that the student number 24 attitude score was less than that of others of the same group, so we removed his score and re-evaluated the score.

0.062

0.111

9

< 10 million IRR

Houdehold Income

27

10-20 million IRR

25

20-30 million IRR

22

> 30 million IRR

By removing the socore of the number 24, the difference became significant.

0.062

0.024

9

< 10 million IRR

Revised Household Income

27

10-20 million IRR

25

20-30 million IRR

21

> 30 million IRR

* It is significant (P<0.025).

Discussion and conclusion

The aim of this study was to investigate the attitude and interest of undergraduate optometric students regarding their field of study. Based on the findings of the present study, the majority of students (75.6%) had a positive attitude toward their academic field. A study in Rasht, by Ms. Alizadeh et al., regarding the attitude of midwifery students towards their field of study showed that the average and standard deviation of students' attitude toward the study field was 16.42 ± 3.18, and minimum and maximum of student's grades regarding their attitudes towards the academic field were 7 and 21, respectively. Overall, the results of this study showed that midwifery students had a positive attitude towards their field of study (12), which is consistent with the results of the present study.

Contrary to the results of the current study in which most of the students had a positive attitude towards their field of study, findings of a study by Shakibaee et al. regarding environmental health students showed that the average students had a negative attitude towards their academic field. Shakibaee considered the reason for this negative attitude was reduced motivation by increasing academic years (13).

In his study, Caravoz also points out the negative attitude of the community towards nursing profession and that the nursing field is influenced by the community and showing the position of this profession in the media can affect the attitude of nursing students towards their profession (14).

In the results of the present study, the score of students' attitude towards their field of study was 1.63-3 and the mean score was between 2.05-2.65 with a 95% probability, which was an acceptable score. One of the factors that can increase motivation and interest can be the variety of educational materials and the possibility of continuing education at higher levels. In terms of optometry, given the possibility of PhD studies in Iran over the last four years, this will increase the interest and motivation of undergraduate students. Another factor to be noted is the ability to teach with a master's degree, which raises the motivation of students to continue their education. Serving the people and society and the proper social status can improve the students' satisfaction and their attitudes. Positive attitudes make the person more interested in learning and improve the quality of his / her knowledge. Of course, this goal will be achieved if appropriate educational and clinical facilities are available. The scores of students' attitude towards the job prospects were 1.88-2.88 and the mean of their attitudes toward the job future with was between 2.24-2.66 with a 95% probability, which shows that most students had a positive attitude towards their job prospects. According to these results, the findings of the study in Zahedan showed that the attitude of students about the job's prospects was 19.78 ± 3.71 with a range of 7-28, which confirmed that 60.6% of students had a positive attitude toward the job’s prospects (8). On the other hand, contrary to the results of our study in which most students had a positive attitude towards their job prospects, the findings of the Kashitarash in Hamedan regarding the attitude of health students toward the job prospects were lower than acceptable (10).

Job motivation is essential for efficient employment. If one is not interested in his job, continued employment will be tedious and even impossible. For this reason, we can consider a relationship between job motivation and job success. Positive attitude towards the future of the job will lead to job motivation, which will also lead to job success (5).

Although the results of our study indicate that most optometric students have a positive attitude toward the career prospect, few of them have a negative attitude towards the career prospect, which can be due to the present conditions of the society; one of the factors that can cause the negative attitude of optometric students towards the future of their job is increasing the acceptance of students in recent years. This worry is for students studying in some western provinces of the country and Mashhad, which results in the acceptance of work under any circumstances after graduation. Other factors include the entry of opticians into the labor market.

In the present study, the majority of students positively answered the question "Would you select optometry again if you would participate the entrance exam again?", despite the significant number of new students entering the job market and affecting the earnings of graduates, and they also often introduce this field to others. Introducing the field to others shows the interest in the field.

In the context of the above question, these results are in line with the findings of the Rasht study. In their study in Rasht, Alizadeh et al. showed that 66.5% of the students responded positively to re-selection of midwifery if they would participate again in the entrance exam, and 63.8% of the students stated that they would recommend this field of study to others (12).

It should be noted that in the current study, 43% of the students disagreed with the question that the possibility of continuing education is low, and 39.5% agreed with the fact that optometry is worth more in higher levels. It should be noted that Mashhad University of Medical Sciences is one of the leading universities in the field of optometry, and the first graduate and PhD students of optometry were admitted to this university. The authors believe that the presence of postgraduate students in the optometry group is influential in the attitudes of undergraduate students to continuing education. According to the results of our study, in a study in Rasht, 56.5% of the students agreed with the fact that midwifery is worth more in higher grades, and 35.5% disagreed with the impossibility of continuing higher education (12). Also, in a study conducted in Hamadan, 50 percent of students fully agreed with the question that the environmental health field is worth more in higher levels (10).

There was a significant statistical relationship between the semester, university entrance quota and monthly household income with the attitude score in relation to the field of study (P <0.025). These results contradicted the findings of Nazari et al. In their study, there was no significant relationship between students' attitude towards the field of study and monthly household income (15). 

In the last page of the questionnaire, students were asked to express their views on the optometry field in one sentence. Most students expressed their opinion about the lack of sufficient understanding of the community in the field of optometry and the description of the duties of optometrists, and regretted the wrong decisions that ophthalmologists imposed on optometry in recent years, and often stated that these issues could naturally reduce the value and position of optometry in society and endangers the health of people in the community. Therefore, it seems that this issue should also be considered at the same time as increasing the scientific quality of the students of optometry.

According to the results of the current study, the majority of students had a positive attitude towards their academic field. Based on the findings of this study and students' attitudes toward job prospects, policy-makers and developers of training programs of the optometry can make the proper decisions to develop or restrict the development of optometry and create job opportunities for these students. The positive attitude of students toward their job prospects can influence the motivation of the students and ultimately the quality and efficiency of the graduates of this field.

One of the limitations of this research was the lack of interest and confidence of students in completing questionnaires. In order to control the limitations of this research, the researcher tried to maximize the response rate by providing adequate explanations and gaining confidence in the students. Another limitation was the low number of students and the limitation of subjects to the Mashhad University of Medical Sciences. If it was possible to access optometry students of other universities, the possibility of generalizing the results was possible. It is suggested that in future studies, graduates of this field, who are working in different environments, should be investigated and compared with the results of this study.

Acknowledgements

We sincerely appreciate all students and faculty members of Optometry and Health Information Technology Group of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences who helped us with this research. We also appreciate vice president of research at Mashhad University of Medical Sciences for financial support.

The present article is derived from Ms. Azar Moradi undergraduate thesis with the code number 951128. The research was approved at the Regional Ethics Committee of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences (Ethics Code: IR.MUMS.REC.1395.62).

Conflict of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

 

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