Details of Thesis

Title School and Classroom Environment of a Small Catholic Secondary School
Author Kelly, Paul
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2010
Abstract This thesis reports research which employed quantitative data collection methods to investigate the classroom and school environment of a small Catholic inclusive secondary school. By drawing on literature on Catholic and inclusive schools, learning environment research and stakeholders perceptions of the dimensions of classroom and school environments, two instruments were developed and validated to gather the perceptions of students, teachers and parents in this school. The What is Happening in this Classroom (WIHIC) instrument was modified to be more suitable for this school’s students by having 35 items to assess perceptions of the classroom environment. Four outcome scales were added to this instrument to gather data on the connections between classroom environment and outcomes. The school environment instrument was developed from existing instruments and several items were written to complement these scales. In 2008, the school associated with this research had 230 students, 103 of whom were special needs students. A total of 152 students and 12 teaching staff voluntarily participated in the collection of classroom environment data. For the assessment of school environment, 41 teaching staff and 40 parents volunteered their perceptions. Statistical analyses revealed statistically significant differences between different groupings of students, and between students and teachers in the classroom environment. Similar differences were also reported for the school environment between parents and teaching staff, teachers and learning support staff and different groups of teaching staff. Students generally had positive perceptions of classroom environment, but the teaching staff were more positive. Statistical analyses also revealed associations between students’ perceptions of classroom environment and teacher mastery goals, teacher performance goals and student academic efficacy. Using data from this study, a model was developed that linked appropriate classroom environment scales to outcomes. This research clearly demonstrates the positive perceptions of classroom environment held by students and teachers and the influence these perceptions have on students’ outcomes. The school environment was perceived positively by parents and teaching staff.
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