This article reports the development, validation and use of an instrument designed to provide teachers with feedback information, based on students’ perceptions, about their classroom environments. The instrument was developed to provide teachers with feedback that they could use to reflect on their teaching practices and, in turn, guide the implementation of strategies to improve their learning environments. To determine the validity and reliability of the new instrument, data from 2043 grade 11 and 12 students from 147 classes in 9 schools were analysed. The Rasch model was used to convert data collected using a frequency response scale into interval data that are suitable for parametric analyses. During an action research process, reflective journals, written feedback, discussions at a forum and interviews with eight teachers helped to illuminate the processes used by teachers during action research. This article reports the views of these teachers in general and examines more closely how one of the teachers used student responses to the learning environment questionnaire as a tool for reflection and as a guide in transforming her classroom environment. This case study helped us to gauge the extent to which action research based on students’ perceptions of the learning environment was useful in guiding teachers’ improvements of their classroom learning environments.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Aldridge, J. M., & Fraser, B. J. (2008). Outcomes-focused learning environments: Determinants and effects (Advances in Learning Environments Research series). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
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.
Aldridge, J. M., Fraser, B. J., & Ntuli, S. (2009). Utilising learning environment assessments to improve teaching practices among in-service teachers undertaking a distance-education programme. South African Journal of Education, 29, 147–170.
Aldridge, J. M., Fraser, B. J., & Sebela, M. P. (2004). Using teacher action research to promote constructivist learning environments in South Africa. South African Journal of Education, 24, 245–253.
Allen, D., Ort, S. W., & Schmidt, J. (2009). Supporting classroom assessment practice: Lessons from a small high school. Theory into Practice, 48, 72–80.
Anderson, G. L., & Walberg, H. J. (1968). Classroom climate group learning. International Journal of Educational Sciences, 2, 175–180.
Andrich, D., Sheridan, B., Lyne, A., & Luo, G. (2000). RUMM: A windows-based item analysis program employing Rasch unidimensional measurement models. Perth: Murdoch University.
Bond, T. G., & Fox, C. M. (2007). Applying the Rasch model: Fundamental measurement in the human sciences (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Bryman, A. (2008). Social research methods (3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
Bustingorry, S. O. (2008). Towards teachers’ professional autonomy through action research. Educational Action Research, 16, 407–420.
Carr, W., & Kemmis, S. (1983). Becoming critical: Knowing through action research. Geelong, Australia: Deakin University.
Creswell, J. W. (2005). Educational research: Planning, conducting and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.
Creswell, J., & Plano Clark, P. (2007). Designing and conducting mixed method research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Curriculum Council. (1998). Curriculum framework. Perth: Curriculum Council of Western Australia.
Dorman, J. P. (2003). Cross-national validation of the what is happening in this class? (WIHIC) questionnaire using confirmatory factor analysis. Learning Environments Research, 6, 231–245.
Erickson, F. (1998). Qualitative research methods for science education. In B. J. Fraser & K. G. Tobin (Eds.), The international handbook of science education (pp. 1155–1173). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.
Fazio, Z., & Melville, W. (2008). Science teacher development through collaborative action research. Teacher Development, 12, 193–209.
Field, A. (2005). Discovering statistics using SPSS (2nd ed.). London: Sage.
Fisher, D. L., & Khine, M. S. (Eds.). (2006). Contemporary approaches to research on learning environments: Worldviews. Singapore: World Scientific.
Fraser, B. J. (1998a). Science learning environments: Assessment, effects and determinants. In B. J. Fraser & K. G. Tobin (Eds.), International handbook of science education (pp. 527–564). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.
Fraser, B. J. (1998b). Classroom environment instruments: Development, validity and applications. Learning Environments Research: An International Journal, 1, 7–33.
Fraser, B. J. (1999). “Grain sizes” in learning environment research: Combining qualitative and quantitative methods. In H. C. Waxman & H. J. Walberg (Eds.), New directions for teaching practice and research (pp. 285–296). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan.
Fraser, B. J. (2007). Classroom learning environments. In S. K. Abell & N. G. Lederman (Eds.), Handbook of research on science education (pp. 103–124). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Fraser, B. J., & Fisher, D. L. (1983a). Student achievement as a function of person-environment fit: A regression surface analysis. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 53, 89–99.
Fraser, B. J., & Fisher, D. L. (1983b). Use of actual and preferred classroom environment scales in person-environment fit research. Journal of Educational Psychology, 75, 303–313.
Fraser, B. J., & Fisher, D. L. (1986). Using short forms of classroom climate instruments to assess and improve classroom psychosocial environment. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 23, 387–413.
Fullan, M. (1999). Change forces: The sequel. London: Falmer Press.
Goh, S. C., & Khine, S. M. (Eds.). (2002). Studies in educational learning environments: An international perspective. Singapore: World Scientific.
Griffin, P., & Smith, P. (1997). Hindering and facilitating factors in OBE. Canberra: Australian Curriculum Studies Association.
Gudmúndsdóttir, S. (2001). Narrative research on school practice. In V. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching (4th ed., pp. 226–240). Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.
Hijzen, D., Boekaerts, M., & Vedder, P. (2007). Exploring the links between students’ engagement in cooperative learning, their goal preferences and appraisals of instructional conditions in the classroom. Learning and Instruction, 17, 673–687.
Hoban, G., & Hastings, G. (2006). Developing different forms of student feedback to promote teacher reflection: A 10-year collaboration. Teaching and Teacher Education, 22, 1006–1019.
Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., & Smith, K. (2007). The state of cooperative learning in postsecondary and professional settings. Educational Psychology Review, 19, 15–29.
Kemmis, S., & McTaggart, R. (Eds.). (1998). The action research planner. Geelong, Australia: Deakin University.
Kemmis, S., & Wilkinson, M. (1998). Participatory action research and the study of practice. In B. Atweh, S. Kemmis, & P. Weeks (Eds.), Action research in practice: Partnerships for social justice in education (pp. 21–36). London: Routledge.
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, 53–67.
Killen, R. (2001). Outcomes-based education: Principles and possibilities. Online: http://www.acel.org.au/affiliates/nsw/conference01/ts_1.html.
Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2004). A handbook for teacher research: From design to implementation. Berkshire, England: Open University Press.
Lewin, K. (1936). Principles of topological psychology. New York: McGraw.
Lin, M. C., & Burbules, N. C. (1993). Construction of knowledge and group learning. In K. Tobin (Ed.), The practice of constructivism in science education (pp. 91–119). Washington, DC: AAAS Press.
Malone, J. A. (1998). On supervising and being supervised at a distance. In J. A. Malone, B. Atweh, & J. R. Northfield (Eds.), Research and supervision in mathematics and science education (pp. 199–214). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Moos, R. H. (1974). The social climate scales: An overview. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.
O’Donovan, B., Price, M., & Rust, C. (2004). Know what I mean?: Enhancing student understanding of assessment standards and criteria. Teaching in Higher Education, 9, 325–335.
Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Rennie, L. J. (2004). Equity and the inclusive science curriculum. In G. Venville & V. Dawson (Eds.), The art of teaching science (pp. 178–193). Sydney, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
Rennie, L. J. (2005). Equity in science teaching and learning: The inclusive science curriculum. In S. Alsop, L. Benze, & E. Pedretti (Eds.), Analysing exemplary science teaching (pp. 183–192). Columbus, OH: Open University Press.
Rentoul, A. J., & Fraser, B. J. (1979). Conceptualization of enquiry-based or open classroom learning environments. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 11, 233–245.
Rhine, S. (1998). The role of research and teachers’ knowledge base in professional development. Educational Researcher, 27(5), 27–31.
Richardson, L. (2000). Writing: A method of inquiry. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (2nd ed., pp. 923–949). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Schön, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.
Schön, D. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Sinclair, B. B., & Fraser, B. J. (2002). Changing classroom environments in urban middle schools. Learning Environments Research, 5, 301–328.
Spady, W. (1993). Outcomes-based education. Canberra: Australian Curriculum Studies Association.
Spady, W. (1994). Outcome-based education: Critical issues and answers. Arlington, VA: American Association of School Administrators.
Stern, G. G. (1970). People in context: Measuring person-environment congruence in education and industry. New York: Wiley.
Stevens, J. P. (1992). Applied multivariate statistics for the social sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Tan, I. G. C., Sharan, S., & Lee, C. K. E. (2007). Group investigation effects on achievement, motivation, and perceptions of students in Singapore. Journal of Educational Research, 100, 142–154.
Taylor, P. C., & Campbell-Williams, M. (1993). Discourse toward balanced rationality in the high school mathematics classroom: Ideas from Habermas’s critical theory. In J. A. Malone, & P. C. S. Taylor (Eds.), Constructivist interpretations of teaching and learning mathematics (Proceeding of Topic Group 10 at the Seventh International Congress on Mathematical Education; pp. 135–148). Perth, Western Australia: Curtin University of Technology.
Taylor, P. C., Fraser, B. J., & Fisher, D. L. (1997). Monitoring constructivist classroom learning environments. International Journal of Educational Research, 27, 293–302.
Thompson, B. (2004). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis: Understanding concepts and applications. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Thorp, H., Burden, R. L., & Fraser, B. J. (1994). Assessing and improving classroom environment. School Science Review, 75, 107–113.
Tobin, K., & Fraser, B. (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, The Netherlands: Kluwer.
Walberg, H. J. (1981). A psychological theory of educational productivity. In F. Farley & N. J. Gordon (Eds.), Psychology and education: The state of the union (pp. 81–108). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan.
Wong, N. Y., & Watkins, D. (1996). Self-monitoring as a mediator of person-environment fit: An investigation of Hong Kong mathematics classroom environments. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 66, 223–229.
Yarrow, A., Millwater, J., & Fraser, B. J. (1997). Improving university and primary school classroom environments through preservice teachers’ action research. International Journal of Practical Experiences in Professional Education, 1, 68–93.
See Table 3.
About this article
Cite this article
Aldridge, J.M., Fraser, B.J., Bell, L. et al. Using a New Learning Environment Questionnaire for Reflection in Teacher Action Research. J Sci Teacher Educ 23, 259–290 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10972-012-9268-1
- Action research
- Learning environments
- Student feedback
- Science teachers
- Constructivist-Oriented Learning Environment Survey (COLES)