A predictive model of student satisfaction with the medical school learning environment

Acad Med. 1997 Feb;72(2):134-9. doi: 10.1097/00001888-199702000-00021.


Purpose: To examine differences in attitudes toward the medical school learning environment among student subgroups based on gender and race-ethnicity, to identify the most influential predictors of student satisfaction with the learning environment, and to create a model of student satisfaction with the learning environment.

Method: Three years of survey data (1992-93 to 1994-95) from first-year students at the University of Michigan Medical School were combined. The total sample consisted of 430 respondents, broken into two sets of subgroups: women (n = 171) and men (n = 259), and whites (n = 239) and underrepresented minorities (n = 74). Asian students were removed from analyses when comparisons were made by race-ethnicity, but were included in the analyses for all students and those comparing men and women. Student's t-tests were used to identify differences between gender and racial-ethnic groups in mean responses to seven survey items, and effect sizes were used to characterize the magnitudes and practical significances of the differences. Forward stepwise regression was conducted to determine the best predictive models for each student subgroup and for the total sample; the subgroup models were compared with each other as well as with the total-sample model.

Results: Cross-validation of the gender and race-ethnicity models showed that the men's satisfaction and the women's satisfaction were predicted equally well using either subgroup's model, and that the white students' satisfaction and the underrepresented-minority students' satisfaction were predicted equally well using either subgroup's model. Furthermore, the total-sample model, employing a subset of five predictors, was similar in its predictive power to the subgroup models.

Conclusion: The study's findings suggest that curriculum structure (timely feedback and the promotion of critical thinking) and students' perceptions of the priority faculty place on students' education are prominent predictors of student satisfaction (across all subgroups) with the learning environment. In contrast, students' perceptions of the learning environment as a comfortable place for all gender and racial-ethnic groups, although less prominent predictors of satisfaction, will discriminate among the subgroups.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minority Groups*
  • Sex Factors
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires