The effect of the open space design of an elementary school upon personality characteristics of students

Date

1972

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Abstract

The purpose of the study was to compare differences in personality characteristics between students with experience in a traditionally designed building and students with experience in an open space designed building. For the study, significant differences that existed between two selected elementary schools in terms of factors that affect student personality were examined. Factors considered were attendance area socio-economic status, student achievement levels, teacher attitude, curriculum, administrative organization for instruction, and building design. Some 400 students were selected for the study based on their previous or current attendance at one of the two elementary schools involved in the study. Students were grouped with regard to grade level and elementary school experience. Elementary school experience was considered only in terms of experience in a traditionally designed building or experience in an open space designed building. "Pencil and paper" personality tests developed by the Institute for Personality and Ability Testing (IPAT) were selected as the means of determining student personality characteristics. The Children's Personality Questionnaire (CPQ) was used for sixth grade subjects and the High School Personality Questionnaire (HSPQ) was selected for testing seventh and eighth grade students. The examination of community socio-economic status, student achievement levels, teacher attitude, and curriculum for the traditional and the open space school revealed no significant differences that would affect student personality. The building designs of the traditional and open space schools were found to be distinctly different with regard to numbers of interior walls and open instructional spaces larger than those traditionally found in schools. Classroom areas in the open space school were organized in clusters and walls were not present to divide the space into 3O'x3O' single, self-contained units. Student scores for sixth graders on the Children's Personality Questionnaire and seventh and eighth graders on the High School Personality Questionnaire were consistent with national norms established by the developers of the tests. An analysis of the test data utilizing the Stepwise Multiple Discriminant Function revealed that significant differences between scores on sub-test I: Tough Minded vs. Tender Minded could be attributed to traditional or open space group membership for sixth, seventh and eighth grade students. Group membership could be identified for seventh graders by sub-test C: Emotionally Unstable vs. Emotionally Stable, and sub-test F: Serious vs. Happy-go-lucky. Eighth grade open space students differed significantly from eighth grade traditional students on sub-test Q2: Group Dependency vs. Self-Sufficiency, Significant differences between traditional and open space groups of sixth, seventh and eighth grade students were not found for other sub-tests of the CPQ and HSPQ. The results of the study revealed that the open space design of a school building does not sifnificantly affect students when the total personality of the individual is considered. The data indicated that students with experience in the open space school were more tender-minded and sensitive in terms of sympathy for the needs of others than the traditional students.

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Keywords

Open plan schools., Interaction analysis in education., Students--Psychology.

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