Original Research

Student nurses’ perceptions of their educational environment at a school of nursing in Western Cape province, South Africa: A cross-sectional study

Katlego D.T. Mthimunye, Felicity M. Daniels
Curationis | Vol 42, No 1 | a1914 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v42i1.1914 | © 2019 Katlego D.T. Mthimunye | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 February 2018 | Published: 08 April 2019

About the author(s)

Katlego D.T. Mthimunye, School of Nursing, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Felicity M. Daniels, School of Nursing, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa


Background: Educational environments have been found to bear a substantial relationship with the academic performance and success, as well as the retention, of students.

Objectives: The study objectives were to (1) evaluate the educational environment as perceived by undergraduate nursing students at a school of nursing (SON) in Western Cape province and (2) investigate whether the educational environment, or components thereof, is perceived negatively or positively among undergraduate nursing students of different year level, gender, home language and ethnicity.

Method: A quantitative research method with a cross-sectional design was implemented. Data were collected from 232 undergraduate nursing students from a SON at a university in Western Cape province, South Africa. The subscales and the items of the educational environment questionnaire were compared among undergraduate nursing students. Data were analysed by means of the IBM Statistical Package for Social Sciences (IBM SPSS-24) using analysis of variances (ANOVAs), independent-sample t-tests, mean scores, standard deviations and percentages.

Results: The mean score attained for the entire participant group was 195 (standard deviation [SD] = 24.2) out of 268 (equivalent to 72.8% of maximum score), which indicated that the educational environment was perceived substantially more positively than negatively. The overall mean score was significantly higher (p < 0.05) for male students (M = 202; SD = 21) and for black students (M = 202; SD = 21). The digital resources (DR) subscale was the only subscale with a statement or item that was rated as absolute negative (M = 1.9; SD = 0.9).

Conclusion: The educational environment at the institution concerned was perceived as predominantly positive by its undergraduate nursing students. Although the educational environment was predominantly perceived as positive, the results of this study also indicated that enhancements are required to improve the physical classroom conditions, skills laboratories, DR and the implemented teaching and learning strategies. It is vital for university management to prioritise the creation of an educational environment which would ensure that quality learning takes place.


student’s perceptions; educational environment; nursing education; Western Cape; South Africa


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Crossref Citations

1. Exploring the challenges and efforts implemented to improve the academic performance and success of nursing students at a university in the Western Cape
Katlego Dumisani Trevor Mthimunye, Felicity Megan Daniels
International Journal of Africa Nursing Sciences  vol: 12  first page: 100196  year: 2020  
doi: 10.1016/j.ijans.2020.100196