Can less be more? Comparison of an 8-item placement quality measure with the 50-item Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure (DREEM)

Martina Kelly*, Deirdre Bennett, Arno Muijtjens, Siun O'Flynn, Tim Dornan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Clinical clerks learn more than they are taught and not all they learn can be measured. As a result, curriculum leaders evaluate clinical educational environments. The quantitative Dundee Ready Environment Measure (DREEM) is a de facto standard for that purpose. Its 50 items and 5 subscales were developed by consensus. Reasoning that an instrument would perform best if it were underpinned by a clearly conceptualized link between environment and learning as well as psychometric evidence, we developed the mixed methods Manchester Clinical Placement Index (MCPI), eliminated redundant items, and published validity evidence for its 8 item and 2 subscale structure. Here, we set out to compare MCPI with DREEM. 104 students on full-time clinical placements completed both measures three times during a single academic year. There was good agreement and at least as good discrimination between placements with the smaller MCPI. Total MCPI scores and the mean score of its 5-item learning environment subscale allowed ten raters to distinguish between the quality of educational environments. Twenty raters were needed for the 3-item MCPI training subscale and the DREEM scale and its subscales. MCPI compares favourably with DREEM in that one-sixth the number of items perform at least as well psychometrically, it provides formative free text data, and it is founded on the widely shared assumption that communities of practice make good learning environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1027-1032
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


  • Learning environment
  • Manchester Clinical Placement Index

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