A comparison of affective factors between contained classrooms and open area classrooms

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1972

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Purpose The purpose of this study was to determine if there were measurable differences in the following affective areas: classroom environment, the parent's attitudes, personality variables, and anxiety levels; related to teaching/learning experiences in an open area classroom as opposed to teaching/learning experiences in the traditional self-contained classroom. Design of the Study This was the second year of a longitudinal study designed to achieve equality between control and experimental groups with regard to all input factors except that of facility, so far as possible. A group of third, fourth, and fifth grade children, who attended Westwood Elementary School in Friendswood Independent School District, their teachers and their parents were the subjects for this study. Equivalent random samples from a population of 461 students, which had been selected in the school year, 1969-70, were used for the 1970-71 study. Hypotheses The following four hypotheses were posed and tested with instruments designed or selected for that evaluation: 1. There will be no statistically significant differences between attitudes of open area teachers and attitudes of contained classroom teachers. The California Test of Personality, the Edwards Personal Preference Schedule, and the Minnesota Teacher Attitude Inventory were the instruments used to measure these variables. 2. There will be no statistically significant differences between parental attitudes toward the school when the parents of children in open area situations are compared with parents of children in traditional classrooms. The Parental Attitude Inventory was devised and administered to parents at the beginning of the school year and again at the end. 3. There will be no statistically significant differences in personality factors as measured by pre- and post-tests, by grade levels (third, fourth, and fifth), when the control group is compared to the experimental group. Two instruments provided this information. The Children's Personality Questionnaire and the California Test of Personality. 4. There will be no statistically significant differences between the anxiety levels of children in the three experimental groups as compared with those of children in the control groups. The Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale was administered early in the school year and at the end of the year. Findings Of the four hypotheses, two were rejected and two were not rejected. When the personality and attitude scores on the Edwards Personal Preference inventory and the California Test of Personality were compared for open area teachers and self-contained classroom teachers, differences were significant at the .01 level, using the stepwise discriminant analysis. No statistical significance could be determined between the parental attitudes toward the school when the parents of children in open area situations were compared with parents of children in the traditional classrooms. However, the change in attitudes of open area parents toward the administration and faculty was significant at the .05 level of significance using chi square changing toward the favorable end of the scale by the end,of the year. The same trend was observed in parents whose children were in the self-contained classrooms for the item, discipline. When the children in the control and experimental groups were compared on personality factors using stepwise discriminant analysis statistically significant differences at the .01 level could be determined for all three grade levels on both the Children's Personality Questionnaire and the California Test of Personality. No statistical significance could be determined, using analysis of variance, between the anxiety levels of the control group and experimental group on any grade level. Conclusions and Recommendations It was found that there were significant differences between the classroom environments, reflected by measured differences in teachers' attitudes, between the experimental and control groups in this study. There were also measurable differences in the changes which occurred in parents' attitudes toward the school during the year of the study. Furthermore, there were measurable differences in the attitudes and personality factors of the students in the study. As students in experimental and control groups in grades three and four were assigned to a common environment (either open area or self-contained classroom), the two groups tended to become more alike in measured characteristics. However, the fifth grade groups, separated into open area and traditional classrooms, tended to develop more differences between the groups during the year. Indications from this data support the hypothesis that there are differences between the control groups and experimental groups in this study, and that these differences showed favorable attitudinal development on the part of teachers, parents and pupils during open area school experience. The fear of anxiety being caused by the open area learning situation was clearly ruled out by the evidence of this study. Data from this study supports the recommendation that more open area schools be established. It was recommended that any new school in Friendswood Independent School District be an open area facility. It was further recommended that more studies be made comparing the cognitive and affective effects of the 'open' school and the 'closed' school on teachers and students at the junior high or middle school level.

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