Purpose: To construct a new measure to assess students' perceptions of the medical school learning environment (LE).
Method: In 2012, students at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine completed a survey containing 32 LE items. Additional questions asked about overall perception of the LE, personal growth, and recommending the school to a friend. Validity evidence for content, response process, internal structure, and relation to other variables was collected for interpretation of scores.
Results: Of 465 students surveyed, 377 (81%) completed all LE items. Exploratory factor analysis yielded the 28-item Johns Hopkins Learning Environment Scale (JHLES) with seven factors/subscales: community of peers, faculty relationships, academic climate, meaningful engagement, mentoring, inclusion and safety, and physical space. Students' overall JHLES scores ranged from 51 to 139, of a possible 28 to 140, with a mean (SD) of 107 (15). Overall scores and most subscale scores did not differ significantly by gender or racial/ethnic background, but did differ significantly by overall perception of the LE (P ≤ .001) and increased incrementally as overall perception improved. Overall JHLES scores were significantly higher for students with higher personal growth scores and students who would recommend the school (both P < .001). Subscale scores for all seven factors increased with improved overall perception of the LE (all P ≤ .005).
Conclusions: The JHLES is a new measure to assess students' perceptions of the medical school LE, with supporting validity evidence and content describing the social, relational, and academic processes of medical school that support students' professional formation.