Aim: To compare the undergraduate dental students' perceptions of their educational environment with academic achievement. Materials and Methods: This cross-sectional study used the shortened version of the 'Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure' (DREEM-17) and was administered to 200 students of a dental school in south India using a convenient sampling. DREEM-17 consists of 17 questions under five domains recorded on a Likert scale. Higher scores implied a better perception of the educational environment. Based on the results of university examinations, students were grouped as academic achievers and under-achievers. Independent sample t-test and analysis of variance with post-hoc test were used to evaluate significant differences with gender, academic year, and academic achievement. The relationship between academic achievement and the DREEM scores was evaluated with Poisson regression after adjusting for the academic year. Results: The final analysis included 183 students (91.5% response rate). The majority of the participants were females (92.3%) with a mean age of 20.84 ± 1.41 years. Only 16.9% were under-achievers. There was a significant difference in the total mean scores concerning the academic years (P 0.001). Under-achievers, as compared to academic achievers, scored lower mean total DREEM (P = 0.005). Regression analysis showed that academic achievers perceived significantly higher DREEM scores after adjusting for the academic year (risk ratio = 0.96; 95% confidence interval = 0.95-0.98; P 0.001). Conclusion: Academic achievers fared higher DREEM scores than under-achievers. The use of DREEM-17 as a tool for monitoring academic progress might facilitate the identification and implementation of timely interventions to modify any problematic educational situations.
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