Prevalence and factors associated with retakes among undergraduate continuing students at the College of health sciences, Makerere University, Uganda
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Background: Since Medical schools are known globally for admitting the best students from high school, failure would be the least expected event. The quality of students’ performance remains a top priority for educators as it is meant for making a difference locally, regionally, nationally and globally but this remains a big challenge. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and factors associated with retakes among undergraduates at college of health sciences, Makerere university so to set a precedence on possible interventions to improve academic performance among medical students in Uganda. Aim: To assess the prevalence and factors associated with having retakes among undergraduate continuing students at the college of health sciences, Makerere university. Methods: An online quantitative cross-sectional study was conducted among undergraduate continuing students at the college of health sciences, Makerere University. Chi square or Fischer’s exact tests and logistic regression model were used to assess the association between dependent and independent variables. Results: A total of 310 responses were obtained. Of these, 206(66.5%) were males with an overall median age of 24 (range: 28) years. Majority of participants, 279(90%) were single and were pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery (n=132, 42.7%). Up to 148(47.7%) had ever gotten at least one retake, Anatomy (n=74,50%), Pharmacology (n=59, 39.9%) and Pathology (n=57, 38.5%) being the most common. Participants 25 years or older (OR:1.8, 95% CI: 1.1-2.8, p=0.021), those at School of Biomedical Sciences (OR: 2.2, 95% CI: 1.1-4.6, p=0.031) were more likely to have a retake while regular attendance of lectures (OR: 0.5, 95% CI: 0.2-1.0, p=0.048) was associated with less retakes. Up to half of the participants, 51.3% believed that their learning environment negatively influenced their academic performance. Although majority, 71.9% believed there was no supporting system to support those who obtain retakes. Negative feelings (n=230,74.2%), hopelessness (n=223, 71.9%), loss of self-esteem (n=220, 71.0%) and anxiety (n=175, 56.5%) were the most common psychological effects reported to result from obtaining retakes. Conclusion: Many students were found to suffer retakes at one point during the course which negatively affect their social and mental health. Older students, and those who don’t regularly attend classes were at an increased risk of getting retakes. Support systems such as mentorship programs, provision of study materials and psychosocial support may help improve performa.