Undergraduate nursing students' perceptions of their clinical learning environment


  • Sandra V. Dunn RN PhD FRCNA,

    Corresponding author
    1. Senior Lecturer–Critical Care, Queensland University of Technology School of Nursing/Royal Brisbane Hospital Division of Critical Care, Queensland, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Brian Hansford PhD

    1. Professor and Head, School of Professional Studies, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author

Sandra V. Dunn, Senior Lecturer–Critical Care, QUT School of Nursing, KG Campus, Brisbane, Queensland 4001, Australia.


The clinical learning environment (CLE) is an interactive network of forces influencing student learning outcomes in the clinical setting. This study used mixed methods to identify factors characterizing students' perceptions of the CLE. The sample consisted of 229 undergraduate students in the second or third year of their biophysical nursing strand. The five subscales of the Clinical Learning Environment Scale, ‘Staff-student relationships’, ‘nurse manager commitment’, ‘patient relationships’, ‘student satisfaction’ and ‘hierarchy and ritual’, were supported by qualitative data obtained from student interviews. Interpersonal relationships between the participants in the CLE were crucial to the development of a positive learning environment. Student satisfaction with the CLE was both a result of, and influential in creation, a positive learning environment. Nurse educators, clinical venues, and all others participating in the undergraduate nursing students' clinical education, must colloborate in order to crate a CLE which promotes the development of well-educated registered nurses capable of providing safe, cost-effective patient care.