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Student perceptions regarding classroom environments for learning

Jean Edith Greenwood, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The classroom environment has a powerful influence on learning, and children's perceptions of that environment influence their behavior. This study examines the perceptions of sixth grade students who are the most and least academically successful regarding how they perceive their classroom environment and those factors within it that enhance or inhibit learning. Data gathered in this research indicate that there are significant disparities in how the most and least successful students perceive their classroom learning environment. The most successful students perceived the classroom environment as more affiliative and task focused, perceived their teachers to be more trusting, caring, and supportive, and perceived that they had more choice in how they learned. In contrast, the least successful students perceived the class to be more teacher controlled and competitive. In spite of the differences in friendship and support perceived by study participants, both groups of students were able to provide clear examples of teaching approaches and classroom conditions that they perceived increased or inhibited their learning. This study also includes students' suggestions for changes that would increase their learning. The findings in this study are consistent with the research and literature reviewed from the fields of education, psychology, and business regarding conditions that are likely to enhance learning. The major implications of this study are that teachers need to: (a) be able to form caring, supportive relationships with all students, (b) create safe, non-threatening environments where learning is less competitive and students are encouraged to form supportive relationships with one another, (c) provide students with interesting, challenging work that engages them, while supporting and encouraging students' efforts, (d) develop a large repertoire of effective instructional approaches to meet the diverse learning needs of students, (e) keep current with the knowledge base, (f) ask, and listen to students to understand how they learn best, and (g) seek professional experiences that will help them reflect on how they can improve their practice. Finally, a number of recommendations are proposed for use by teachers, administrators, organizations that provide pre-service and in-service opportunities, educational policy makers, and other parties interested in assisting teachers and schools increase student learning.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Greenwood, Jean Edith, "Student perceptions regarding classroom environments for learning" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3056233.