The relationship between students' perception of the educational environment and their subjective happiness

Dong Mi Yoo, Do Hwan Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Happiness, a subjective judgment about one's quality of life, is influenced by environmental factors and should be considered as an important goal of medical education, which should support each learner's development as a person as well as a professional. However, although several studies have reported on the correlation between Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure (DREEM) scores and students' academic achievement, few have investigated the relationship between DREEM scores and students' subjective happiness. This study examined different perceptions of the educational environment between phases of the curriculum and determined which DREEM subscales affect the overall level of happiness. Methods: We used the Korean version of the DREEM questionnaire and a single item measure of happiness on a scale of 0 to 10. First we analyzed student perceptions of the educational environment according to their demographic characteristics using independent sample t-tests and one-way analysis of variance. A multiple regression analysis was performed to reveal which subscales affect the overall level of happiness while controlling for grade point average (GPA) and other demographic characteristics. Results: The subjects were 239 medical school students across all stages of the curriculum. The students' overall perception was more positive for the educational environment during Phase 3 (clerkship) than Phase 1 (pre-medical). Among the DREEM subscales, this difference was especially prominent in Students' Perception of Learning and Students' Academic Self-Perceptions. In contrast, no difference in the subjective perception of happiness was found between phases. The effect of GPA on happiness became insignificant under the control of other variables, but the influence of the Students' Social Self-Perceptions (SSSP) subscale remained significant. Conclusions: The students' overall perception of the educational environment was more positive during the clerkship period than in the pre-medical period. Based on our finding that the SSSP correlates significantly with subjective happiness, we suggest that institutions promote not only students' academic development but also their happiness by fostering an appropriate educational environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number409
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019 Nov 8


  • Academic achievement
  • Dundee ready educational environment measure
  • Educational environment
  • Happiness
  • Undergraduate medical education


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