A mission statement (MS) sets out the long-term goals of an institution and is supposed to be suited for studying learning environments. Yet, hardly any study has tested this issue so far. The aim of the present study was the development and psychometric evaluation of an MS-Questionnaire (MSQ) focusing on explicit competencies. We investigated to what extent the MSQ captures the construct of learning environment and how well a faculty is following - in its perception - a competency orientation in a competency-based curriculum.
A questionnaire was derived from the MS “teaching” (Medical Faculty, Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf) which was based on (inter-) nationally accepted goals and recommendations for a competency based medical education. The MSQ was administered together with the Dundee Ready Education Environment Measure (DREEM) to 1119 students and 258 teachers. Cronbach’s alpha was used to analyze the internal consistency of the items. Explorative factor analyses were performed to analyze homogeneity of the items within subscales and factorial validity of the MSQ. Item discrimination was assessed by means of part-whole corrected discrimination indices, and convergent validity was analyzed with respect to DREEM. Demographic variations of the respondents were used to analyze the inter-group variations in their responses.
Students and teachers perceived the MS implementation as “moderate” and on average, students differed significantly in their perception of the MS. They thought implementation of the MS was less successful than faculty did. Women had a more positive perception of educational climate than their male colleagues and clinical students perceived the implementation of the MS on all dimensions significantly worse than preclinical students. The psychometric properties of the MSQ were very satisfactory: Item discrimination was high. Similarly to DREEM, the MSQ was highly reliable among students (α = 0.92) and teachers (α = 0.93). In both groups, the MSQ correlated highly positively with DREEM (r = 0.79 and 0.80, p < 0.001 each). Factor analyses did not reproduce the three areas of the MS perfectly. The subscales, however, could be identified as such both among teachers and students.
The perceived implementation of faculty-specific goals can be measured in an institution to some considerable extent by means of a questionnaire developed on the basis of the institution’s MS. Our MSQ provides a reliable instrument to measure the learning climate with a strong focus on competencies which are increasingly considered crucial in medical education. The questionnaire thus offers additional information beyond the DREEM. Our site-specific results imply that our own faculty is not yet fully living up to its competency-based MS. In general, the MSQ might prove useful for faculty development to the increasing number of faculties seeking to measure their perceived competency orientation in a competency-based curriculum.