Climate Study of the Learning Environment for Faculty, Staff, and Students at a U.S. Dental School: Foundation for Culture Change
Journal of dental education | 3 Oct 2017
CA Murdoch-Kinch, RE Duff, V Ramaswamy, TV Ester, SA Sponseller and JA Seeley
The aim of this study was to assess the culture and climate for diversity and inclusion and the humanistic learning environment for students, faculty, and staff at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. From July 2014 to June 2015, two committees of 16 faculty members, staff members, and students, in partnership with trained program evaluators, used a participatory program evaluation (PPE) process to conduct the assessment using key informant interviews, surveys, and focus groups. The topics addressed were humanistic environment, learning environment, diversity and inclusion, microaggressions and bullying, and activities and space. All staff members, all faculty members (both full- and part-time), and all students in all four years were invited to participate in the parallel but distinctive versions of the survey from November 10 to 25, 2014. Response rates for each group were as follows: 50% (318/642) for students, 68% (217/320) for staff, and 40% (147/366) for faculty; numbers responding to individual items varied. Among the respondents, the majority (76% faculty, 67% staff, 80% students) agreed that the environment fostered learning and personal growth and that a humanistic environment was important (97% faculty, 95% staff, 94% students). Many reported having experienced/witnessed a micro-aggression or bullying. Many also reported having “ever had” dissatisfaction with the learning environment (44% faculty, 39% staff, 68% students). The students sought better relationships with the faculty; the staff and faculty members sought opportunities for professional development and mentoring. Recommendations included cultural sensitivity training, courses for interpersonal skills, leadership and team-building efforts, addressing microaggressions and bullying, creating opportunities for collaboration, and increasing diversity of faculty, staff, and students. These recommendations were incorporated into the school’s strategic plan. In this study, a utilization-focused PPE process using mixed methods was effective for evaluating the dental school’s climate for diversity and inclusion, as well as the learning environment for faculty, staff, and students.
* Data courtesy of Altmetric.com