Teachers' perceptions and use of classroom space
Snow, Sue Ellen
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This dissertation was conducted to examine the perceptions held by secondary teachers about their use of classroom space. Six participants--Georgia teachers with National Board certification--were interviewed and asked to describe their teaching experiences related to: orientation issues (the individual’s perception of space); operation issues (intentions and attempts to shape and use the environment); and evaluation issues (judgments made about the environment). The findings of this study indicated three major themes concerning teachers’ perceptions of classroom space: (1) the adequacy of the amount and arrangement of space for teachers’ needs, (2) the physical condition of the classroom in relation to teacher performance and morale, and (3) the affects of the classroom’s physical condition on student behavior. The amount or arrangement of space was inadequate for the teachers’ needs, particularly in the areas of student mobility and storage. However, teachers found numerous ways to modify and shape their setting to make it support their instructional program. Newer facilities and smaller class sizes contributed to teachers’ sense of well-being and effectiveness while poor maintenance and overcrowding were associated with feelings of frustration. Teachers believed that the physical environment sent positive or negative messages. Students in trailers and older, poorly maintained buildings seemed to be more destructive and less appreciative of their facility than students in newer schools. Based on teachers’ perceptions in this study, seven classroom design recommendations were identified. 1.) Construct adequate storage to house materials for instructional programs, particularly in laboratory sciences. 2.) Plan for flexible arrangements of people, furnishings, and equipment by limiting built-ins and immobile fixtures. 3.) Locate all technology resources together and away from windows. 4.) Provide classroom space in secondary schools that will support instructional programs and accommodate student mobility. 5.) Construct additional space for computer workstations located in classrooms. 6.) Build separate workspaces for teachers to use for planning and conferencing with parents, students, and colleagues. 7.) Create professional classroom environments that include computers with Internet access and telephones with outside lines.