Assessing and changing classroom environments in urban middle schools in Texas

Year: 2001

Author: Fraser, Barry, Sinclair, Becky, Ledbetter, Cynthia

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This study involved three phases. First, we developed and validated the Elementary and Middle School Inventory of Classroom Environments (ICE) for assessing upper primary and middle school (Grades 6–8) students’ perceived and preferred classroom environment. Second, typical classroom environments in an urban setting were described based on quantitative and qualitative data, including differences between the perceptions of students of different genders. Finally, teachers’ participation in action research techniques, involving the use of feedback on perceived and preferred classroom environment, was evaluated in terms of effectiveness in promoting improvement in classroom environments.

The sample consisted of ten 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 Empathy, Involvement and Task Orientation, were administered. Factor and item analyses supported the internal consistency reliability of a four-factor version 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. When teachers were selected from the original sample to participate in an attempt to alter their classroom environments, changes in classroom climate occurred, thus supporting the efficacy of the environmental change strategy.