Assessing, Describing and Changing Classroom Environments in Urban Middle Schools
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This study involved three phases. First, a new instrument for assessing upper elementary and middle school (grades 6-8) students' perceived and preferred classroom environment, called the Elementary and Middle School Inventory of Classroom Environments (ICE), was developed and validated. Second, typical classroom environments in an urban setting were described based on quantitative and qualitative data, including differences between genders and between Caucasian, African-American and Hispanic ethnicities. Finally, the effectiveness of personalized training, combined with teachers' participation in action research techniques involving the use of feedback on perceived and preferred classroom environment was evolved in terms of promoting improvement in classroom environments. The sample consisted of 10 middle grade teachers and their 43 classes of students in an urban North Texas school setting. Perceived and preferred forms of the ICE, assessing Cooperation, Teacher Equity, Involvement and Task Orientation, were administered. Factor and item analysis supported the internal consistency reliability of a four-factor structure of the perceived and preferred forms of the ICE for both the individual student and the class mean as the units of analysis. The perceived and preferred environments of different classes are described based on profiles of classroom environment scores. Three teachers were selected from the original sample to participate the following academic year in an attempt to alter their classroom environments. Changes in classroom climate occurred, thus supporting the efficacy of the environmental change strategy.
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