AACN Launches New Culture and Climate Survey to Assess Inclusive Learning Environments in Schools of Nursing

New Monograph Published on Fostering Belongingness in Nursing Schools

WASHINGTON, DC, February 1, 2024 – The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has launched a new survey instrument to assist nurse educators in their work to create inclusive learning environments where all students have a strong sense of belonging and purpose. With funding provided by Johnson & Johnson, AACN adapted its Leading Across Multidimensional Perspectives (LAMPSM) Culture and Climate Survey to better assess the experiences of diverse nursing faculty, students, and staff while identifying practices that facilitate student and professional success.

“Creating academic settings where all feel welcomed and supported is critical to the well-being and success of nurses engaged in academic and practice settings,” said Dr. Deborah Trautman, AACN President and Chief Executive Officer. “AACN applauds Johnson & Johnson for supporting this critical work and the 51 nursing schools nationwide for their commitment to piloting our environmental assessment tool and for adding to our understanding about belongingness in nursing.”

As used in other disciplines, culture and climate surveys help academic administrators understand the experiences of students, faculty, and staff as well as mechanisms essential to facilitating student recruitment, retention, and persistence. AACN developed LAMPSM to identify and assess the unique environmental and programmatic characteristics of schools of nursing that facilitate engagement and success.

First piloted in 2019, AACN secured support from Johnson & Johnson to complete a national pilot study of the latest iteration of LAMPSM in 2023 with 51 nursing schools nationwide. This project, titled Building a Culture of Belonging in Academic Nursing, centered on scaling up the use of LAMPSM to better assess the experiences of nursing students, faculty, and staff while identifying policies and practices that facilitate a sense of belonging. With assessment data collected from each constituent group, the survey supplied educators with the information needed to initiate change, target areas of growth, and improve student outcomes. AACN staff provided technical assistance to the pilot schools as well as final reports for each institution.

Key findings from the national report containing cumulative findings for the 2023 pilot survey include the following:

  • In terms of belongingness, differences were found across the three surveyed groups: faculty, staff, and students. Though 76% of faculty and 80% of staff feel connected with the campus community, just over 60% of students report feeling a strong sense of belonging.

  • Over 50% of students agree that students of all races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and with disabilities are treated fairly. Greater than 75% of faculty and 55% of staff also agree.

  • 32% of white students and 46% of African American and Asian students believe that subtle discrimination and microaggressions may exist in the structure of their programs. Among faculty, 55% of white faculty, 69% of African American faculty, and 61% of Asian faculty also agree.

  • 81% of white students and 69% of African American students believe that the curriculum appropriately addresses racial and ethnic diversity. Among faculty, 55% of white faculty, 68% of African American faculty, and 61% of Asian faculty agreed.

  • A strong majority across all surveyed groups (74% and higher) agree that a diverse student body enhances the educational experience of all students.

These findings are based on a total of 9,049 survey responses received from 5,936 students, 2,283 faculty, and 830 staff from schools of nursing offering baccalaureate and/or higher degrees. AACN is preparing a more in-depth analysis of the pilot survey findings, which will be published in the Journal of Professional Nursing later this year.

About the LAMPSM Culture and Climate Survey

The LAMP survey provides a mechanism for gathering thoughtful input from students, faculty, and staff to help academic administrators understand how their learning environments influence student experiences and achievement. The survey instrument allows schools to benchmark its performance to a national data set and measure progress over time. Participating schools receive reports with feedback in 5 thematic areas: Perceptions of Culture and Climate; Fair Treatment and Observations of Discrimination; Belongingness; Value of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and Campus Services and Clinical Training. Schools of nursing deploying the survey will receive customized action reports, which can help drive institution-level decision-making and meaningful change.

Nursing schools interested in learning more about using the LAMPSM survey at their institutions, including costs and optional consultation services, are encouraged to complete the online inquiry form. Schools will be provided with a memorandum of understanding outlining the support and technical assistance that will be provided during all phases of the survey (including guidance if Institutional Review Board approval is required). AACN staff will monitor responses and response rates, generate progress reports, and provide technical assistance during data collection. Schools will receive an institution-specific report along with a national benchmarking report to compare results with other nursing schools using the LAMPSM survey.

New Monograph on Belongingness in Academic Nursing

In addition to readying the LAMPSM survey for a national audience, AACN has published a new monograph titled Building a Culture of Belonging in Academic Nursing, which features practical strategies that schools can use to elevate engagement among students, faculty, and staff. This publication addresses how value, beliefs, norms, and behaviors influence an organization’s culture and how connected individuals feel with the campus and the nursing profession overall. Specific recommendations are made for faculty and administrators on how to create a culture that respects the needs of all individuals and aligns guiding values with actions. When done effectively, a positive culture can contribute to a more positive student experience, higher levels of faculty engagement and staff loyalty, increased productivity, and long-term success.


The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for academic nursing representing more than 865 schools of nursing nationwide. AACN establishes quality standards for nursing education, influences the nursing profession to improve health care, and promotes public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research and practice.