Veterinary students’ perceptions of their learning environment as measured by the Dundee Ready Education Environment Measure
Pelzer, Jacquelyn M
Hodgson, Jennifer L
Werre, Stephen R.
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Background The Dundee Ready Education Environment Measure (DREEM) has been widely used to evaluate the learning environment within health sciences education, however, this tool has not been applied in veterinary medical education. The aim of this study was to evaluate the reliability and validity of the DREEM tool in a veterinary medical program and to determine veterinary students’ perceptions of their learning environment. Methods The DREEM is a survey tool which quantitatively measures students’ perceptions of their learning environment. The survey consists of 50 items, each scored 0-4 on a Likert Scale. The 50 items are subsequently analysed within five subscales related to students’ perceptions of learning, faculty (teachers), academic atmosphere, and self-perceptions (academic and social). An overall score is obtained by summing the mean score for each subscale, with an overall possible score of 200.All students in the program were asked to complete the DREEM. Means and standard deviations were calculated for the 50 items, the five subscale scores and the overall score. Cronbach’s alpha was determined for the five subscales and overall score to evaluate reliability. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to evaluate construct validity. Results 224 responses (53%) were received. The Cronbach’s alpha for the overall score was 0.93 and for the five subscales were; perceptions of learning 0.85, perceptions of faculty 0.79, perceptions of atmosphere 0.81, academic self-perceptions 0.68, and social self-perceptions 0.72. Construct validity was determined to be acceptable (p < 0.001) and all items contributed to the overall validity of the DREEM. The overall DREEM score was 128.9/200, which is a positive result based on the developers’ descriptors and comparable to other health science education programs. Four individual items of concern were identified by students. Conclusions In this setting the DREEM was a reliable and valid tool to measure veterinary students’ perceptions of their learning environment. The four items identified as concerning originated from four of the five subscales, but all related to workload. Negative perceptions regarding workload is a common concern of students in health education programs. If not addressed, this perception may have an unfavourable impact on veterinary students’ learning environment.