The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed inherent weaknesses and posed novel challenges during the implementation of distance education. This mixed-method study aimed to investigate undergraduate pharmacy students’ perceptions of the barriers and challenges in online assessments during the pandemic lockdowns. A self-reported questionnaire was designed to collect responses from third-year pharmacy students from April – May 2021. A total of 126 pharmacy students from a Malaysian public university completed the survey. Five themes of inadequate online interactions, unconducive learning environment, mental health concerns, heavy assignment workload and preparedness as future pharmacists emerged from this study as challenges and barriers students perceived in online assessments. The findings in this study indicated students adopted surface learning strategies rather than deep learning to cope with heavy assignment workloads. Students also asserted that the underdevelopment of communication skills and practical knowledge relevant to the pharmacy profession might directly impact their preparedness as future pharmacists. Future research could explore the long-term ramifications of the pandemic on pharmacy students’ learning and professional skills.
Aisyah Saad Abdul Rahim, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia
Syamimi Jamil, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia