Learning Environments Research

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 339–364 | Cite as

Evaluating online resources in terms of learning environment and student attitudes in middle-grade mathematics classes

  • James E. Earle
  • Barry J. FraserEmail author
Original Paper


The main objective of this research was to use learning environment and attitude scales in evaluating online resource materials for supporting a traditional mathematics curriculum. The sample consisted of 914 middle-school students in 49 classes. A second research focus was the validation of the chosen learning environment questionnaire, the Technology-Rich Outcomes-Focused Learning Environment Inventory (TROFLEI), with an ethnically-diverse sample of middle-grade mathematics students in Florida. Finally, we complemented quantitative questionnaire data with qualitative interview data that were analysed thematically. In addition to cross-validating the TROFLEI, our study suggested that the online resource provided neither much advantage nor much disadvantage.


Attitudes Learning environment Mathematics education Online resources Technology-Rich Outcomes-Focused Learning Environment Inventory (TROFLEI) Thematic analysis 


  1. Adamski, A., Fraser, B. J., & Peiro, M. M. (2013). Parental involvement in schooling, classroom environment and student outcomes. Learning Environments Research, 16, 315–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aiken, L. R. (2002). Attitudes and related psychosocial constructs: Theories, assessment, and research. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  3. Aldridge, J. M., Dorman, J. P., & Fraser, B. J. (2004). Use of multitrait–multimethod modelling to validate actual and preferred forms of the Technology-Rich Outcomes-Focused Learning Environment Inventory (TROFLEI). Australian Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, 4, 110–125.Google Scholar
  4. Aldridge, J. M., & Fraser, B. J. (2000). A cross-national study of classroom environments in Taiwan and Australia. Learning Environments Research, 3, 101–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Aldridge, J. M., & Fraser, B. J. (2008). Outcomes-focused learning environments (advances in learning environments research series). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  6. Aldridge, J. M., Fraser, B. J., & Huang, I. T. C. (1999). Investigating classroom environments in Taiwan and Australia with multiple research methods. Journal of Educational Research, 93, 48–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Aldridge, J. M., Laugksch, R. C., & Fraser, B. J. (2006). School-level environment and outcomes-based education in South Africa. Learning Environments Research, 9, 123–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Allport, G. W. (1935). Attitudes. In C. Murchison (Ed.), Handbook of social psychology (pp. 798–844). Worcester: Clark University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Anderson, G. J., & Walberg, H. J. (1968). Classroom climate and group learning. International Journal of Educational Sciences, 2, 175–189.Google Scholar
  10. Ball, D. L., & Cohen, D. K. (1999). Instruction, capacity, and improvement (CPRE research report no. RR-43). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, Consortium for Policy Research in Education.Google Scholar
  11. Bell, B., Jones, A., & Carr, M. (1995). The development of the recent national New Zealand science curriculum. Studies in Science Education, 26, 73–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bolliger, D. U., & Martindale, T. (2004). Key factors in determining student satisfaction in online courses. International Journal on E-Learning, 31(1), 61–67.Google Scholar
  13. Botha, R. J. (2002). Outcomes-based education and educational reform in South Africa. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 5, 361–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chionh, Y. H., & Fraser, B. J. (2009). Classroom environment, achievement, attitudes and self-esteem in geography and mathematics in Singapore. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 18, 29–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  16. Cohn, S. T., & Fraser, B. J. (2016). Effectiveness of student response systems in terms of learning environment, attitudes and achievement. Learning Environments Research, 19, 153–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Créton, H., & Wubbels, Th. (1984). Ordeproblem bij beginnende leararen [Discipline problems of beginning teachers]. Utrecht: W.C.C.Google Scholar
  18. Dick, W., & Carey, J. O. (1996). The systematic design of instruction (4th ed.). New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  19. Dorman, J. P., & Fraser, B. J. (2009). Psychosocial environment and affective outcomes in technology-rich classrooms: Testing a causal model. Social Psychology of Education, 12, 77–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Eagly, A. H., & Chaiken, S. (1993). The psychology of attitudes. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  21. Education Commission of the States. (1995). “Outcomes-based” education: An overview. Denver: Education Commission of the States.Google Scholar
  22. Evans, K. M., & King, J. A. (1994). Research on OBE: What we know and don’t know. Educational Leadership, 51(6), 12–17.Google Scholar
  23. Fahy, P. J. (2000). Achieving quality with online teaching technologies. Paper presented at Quality Learning 2000 Inaugural International Symposium, Calgary, AB (ERIC document reproduction service no. ED445197).Google Scholar
  24. Faris, R. (1998). From elitism to inclusive education: Development of outcomes-based learning and post-secondary credit accumulation and transfer systems in England and Wales. Victoria: Centre for Curriculum, Transfer and Technology.Google Scholar
  25. Fisher, D. L., & Khine, M. S. (Eds.). (2006). Contemporary approaches to research on learning environments: Worldviews. Singapore: World Scientific.Google Scholar
  26. Fletcher, G. H. (2010). Race to the top: No district left behind. THE Journal, 37(10), 17–18.Google Scholar
  27. Forlin, C., & Forlin, P. (2002). Outcomes-focused education for inclusion. Queensland Journal of Education, 18, 62–81.Google Scholar
  28. Fraser, B. J. (1981). Test of science-related attitudes. Melbourne: The Australian Council for Educational Research.Google Scholar
  29. Fraser, B. J. (1986). Classroom environment. London: Croom Helm.Google Scholar
  30. Fraser, B. J. (1998a). Classroom environment instruments: Development, validity and applications. Learning Environments Research, 1, 7–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Fraser, B. J. (1998b). Science learning environments: Assessment, effects, and determinants. In B. J. Fraser & K. G. Tobin (Eds.), International handbook of science education (pp. 527–564). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Fraser, B. J. (2012). Classroom learning environments: Retrospect, context and prospect. In B. J. Fraser, K. G. Tobin, & C. J. McRobbie (Eds.), Second international handbook of science education (pp. 1191–1239). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Fraser, B. J. (2014). Classroom learning environments: Historical and contemporary perspectives. In N. G. Lederman & S. K. Abell (Eds.), Handbook of research on science education (Vol. II, pp. 104–117). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  34. Fraser, B. J., Aldridge, J. M., & Adolphe, F. S. G. (2010). A cross-national study of secondary science classroom environments in Australia and Indonesia. Research in Science Education, 40, 551–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Fraser, B. J., & Raaflaub, C. (2013). Subject and sex differences in the learning environment—Perceptions and attitudes of Canadian mathematics and science students using laptop computers. Curriculum & Teaching, 28(1), 57–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Fraser, B. J., & Tobin, K. (1991). Combining qualitative and quantitative methods in classroom environment research. In B. J. Fraser & H. J. Walberg (Eds.), Educational environments: Evaluation, antecedents and consequences (pp. 271–292). Pergamon: London.Google Scholar
  37. Hawkes, M., & Dennis, T. (2003). Supporting and assessing online interactions in higher education. Educational Technology, 43(4), 52–56.Google Scholar
  38. Keller, J. M. (1987). Development and use of the ARCS model of instructional design. Journal of Instructional Development, 10(3), 2–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kerka, S. (1998). Competency-based education and training: Myths and realities. Retrieved from
  40. Khine, M. S. (1996). The interaction of cognitive styles with varying levels of feedback in multimedia presentation. International Journal of Instructional Media, 23, 229–237.Google Scholar
  41. Khoo, H. S., & Fraser, B. J. (2008). Using classroom psychosocial environment in the evaluation of adult computer application courses in Singapore. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 17, 67–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kim, J. K., & Sharp, J. M. (2000). Investigating and measuring preservice elementary mathematics teachers’ decision about lesson planning after experiencing technologically-enhanced methods instruction. The Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 19, 317–338.Google Scholar
  43. Kind, P., Jones, K., & Barmby, P. (2007). Developing attitudes towards science measures. International Journal of Science Education, 29, 871–893.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Klopfer, L. E. (1971). Evaluation of learning in science. In B. S. Bloom, J. T. Hastings, & G. F. Madaus (Eds.), Handbook on summative and formative evaluation of student learning (pp. 559–641). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  45. Koul, R. B., Fisher, D. L., & Shaw, T. (2011). An application of the TROFLEI in secondary-school science classes in New Zealand. Research in Science & Technological Education, 29, 147–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lewin, K. (1936). Principles of topological psychology. New York: McGraw Hill.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lightburn, M. E., & Fraser, B. J. (2007). Classroom environment and student outcomes among students using anthropometry activities in high school science. Research in Science & Technological Education, 25, 153–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Long, C., & Fraser, B. J. (2015). Comparison of alternative sequencing of middle-school science curriculum: Classroom learning environment and student attitudes. Curriculum and Teaching, 30(1), 23–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Martin-Dunlop, C., & Fraser, B. J. (2008). Learning environment and attitudes associated with an innovative course designed for prospective elementary teachers. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 6, 163–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. McGuire, W. J. (1969). The nature of attitudes and attitude change. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (3rd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 233–246). New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  51. McKernan, J. (1993). Some limitations of outcomes-based education. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 8, 343–353.Google Scholar
  52. Moos, R. H. (1974). The social climate scales: An overview. Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  53. Moos, R. H., & Trickett, E. J. (1974). Classroom Environment Scale manual. Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  54. Moos, R. H., & Trickett, E. J. (1987). Classroom Environment Scale manual (2nd ed.). Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  55. Munby, H. (1983). An investigation into the measurement of attitudes in science education. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University. ERIC Document #ED 237347.Google Scholar
  56. Munby, H. (1997). Issues of validity in science attitude measurement. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 34, 337–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Murray, H. A. (1938). Explorations in personality. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Naime-Diefenbach, B. (1991). Validation of attention and confidence as independent components of the ARCS motivational model. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Florida State University, Tallahassee.Google Scholar
  59. Nix, R., Fraser, B. J., & Ledbetter, C. (2005). Evaluating an integrated science learning environment using the Constructivist Learning Environment Survey. Learning Environments Research, 8, 109–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Ogbuehi, P. I., & Fraser, B. J. (2007). Learning environment, attitudes and conceptual development associated with innovative strategies in middle-school mathematics. Learning Environments Research, 10, 101–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Osborne, J., Simons, S., & Collins, S. (2003). Attitudes towards science: A review of the literature and its implication. International Journal of Science Education, 25, 1049–1079.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Oser, R., & Fraser, B. J. (2015). Effectiveness of virtual laboratories in terms of learning environment, attitudes and achievement among high-school genetics students. Curriculum and Teaching, 30(2), 65–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Patton, M. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  64. Quek, C. L., Wong, A. F. L., & Fraser, B. (2005). Teacher–student interaction and gifted students’ attitudes toward chemistry in laboratory classrooms in Singapore. Journal of Classroom Interaction, 40(1), 18–28.Google Scholar
  65. Richards, L., & Morse, J. M. (2007). Users guide for qualitative methods (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  66. Russell, T. L. (1999). The no significant difference phenomenon. Raleigh: North Carolina State University.Google Scholar
  67. Schibeci, R. A., & McGaw, B. (1981). Empirical validation of the conceptual structure of a test of science-related attitudes. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 41, 1195–1201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Schoenfeld, A. (1992). Learning to think mathematically: Problem solving, metacognition, and sense making in mathematics. In D. A. Grouws (Ed.), Handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning (pp. 334–370). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  69. Silverman, D. (2000). Analyzing talk and text. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (2nd ed., pp. 821–834). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  70. Spady, W. (1993). Outcomes-based education. Canberra: Australian Curriculum Studies Association.Google Scholar
  71. Spady, W. (1994). Outcomes-based education: Critical issues and answers. Arlington: American Association of School Administrators.Google Scholar
  72. Spinner, H., & Fraser, B. J. (2005). Evaluation of an innovative mathematics program in terms of classroom environment, student attitudes, and conceptual development. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 3, 267–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Taylor, B. A., & Fraser, B. J. (2013). Relationships between learning environment and mathematics anxiety. Learning Environments Research, 16, 297–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Tobin, K., & Fraser, B. J. (1998). Qualitative and quantitative landscapes of classroom learning environments. In B. J. Fraser & K. G. Tobin (Eds.), International handbook of science education (pp. 623–640). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Verzoni, K. A. (1997). Turning students into problem solvers. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 3, 102–107.Google Scholar
  76. Waghid, Y. (2003). Peters’ non-instrumental justification of education view revisited: Contesting the philosophy of outcomes-based education in South Africa. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 22, 245–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Walberg, H. J., & Anderson, G. J. (1968). Classroom climate and individual learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 59, 414–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Walker, S. L. (2006). Development and validation of the Test of Geography-Related Attitudes (ToGRA). Journal of Geography, 105, 175–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Watzlawick, P., Beavin, J., & Jackson, D. (1967). The pragmatics of human communication. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  80. Welch, A. G., Cakir, M., Peterson, C., & Ray, C. M. (2012). A cross-cultural validation of the Technology-Rich Outcomes-Focused Learning Environment Inventory (TROFLEI) in Turkey and the USA. Research in Science and Technological Education, 30, 49–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Wolf, S. J., & Fraser, B. J. (2008). Learning environment, attitudes and achievement among middle-school science students using inquiry-based laboratory activities. Research in Science Education, 38, 321–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Wong, A. F. L., Young, D. J., & Fraser, B. J. (1997). A multilevel analysis of learning environments and student attitudes. Educational Psychology, 17, 449–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Wubbels, Th., & Brekelmans, M. (2012). Teacher–students relationships in the classroom. In B. J. Fraser, K. G. Tobin, & C. J. McRobbie (Eds.), Second international handbook of science education (pp. 1241–1255). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Wubbels, Th., Brekelmans, M., & Hooymayers, H. (1991). Interpersonal teacher behaviour in the classroom. In B. J. Fraser & H. J. Walberg (Eds.), Educational environments: Evaluation, antecedents and consequences (pp. 141–160). Oxford: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  85. Wubbels, T., Créton, H. A., & Hooymayers, H. P. (1985, March–April). Discipline problems of beginning teachers: Interactional teacher behaviour mapped out. Paper presented at annual meeting of the American Education Research Association, Chicago.Google Scholar
  86. Zandvliet, D. (2003, April). Learning environments in Malaysian “Smart School” classrooms. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Curtin UniversityPerthAustralia

Personalised recommendations