Franklin Felton Lewis

The Influence of Open-Space Classrooms and Closed-Space Classrooms on Teachers' Attitudes Toward the School Building

Study completed: 1977

Under the direction of C.W. McGuffey

The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of the school's physical environment upon teachers' attitudes toward the school in which they teach. Specifically, this study sought to determine whether teachers in selected open-space classrooms felt more positively about the building in which they taught than did teachers in closed-space classrooms. The study was based upon the hypothesis that teachers' attitudes toward school buildings will differ when the physical, environmental designs of the classrooms are different. The major research hypothesis is that the positive and negative aspects of teachers' attitudes toward school buildings will differ significantly when the teachers are responding from the perspective of an open-space classroom experience as compared with a closed-space classroom experience.

The population of this study consisted of eight secondary schools located in the same geographic area in Georgia. Four of these were schools in which open-space instructional areas were located and four were schools in which closed-space instructional areas were located. An "Attitudes Toward the School Building" Teachers Inventory was distributed in the Spring of the 1976 school year to all the teachers in the eight schools chosen for the study. A total of 329 acceptable instruments were returned to the researcher. The respondents were scored on 43 "yes" items and 39 "no" items in the instrument regarding the school building in which they taught. A "yes" response to a positive item and a "no" response to a negative item constituted a positive attitudinal response by the teacher. The higher the "yes" responses to positive items and the "no" responses to negative items, the more positive the attitudinal rating of the teacher toward his/her school building.

An ex post facto research design was chosen as most appropriate for this study. In ex post facto investigations, the researcher compares two or more groups, at least one of which has been exposed to the experience or condition in question and the other of which has not. In this study, the primary independent variable (X) was "type of classroom design" and the two groups that formed the dependent variables were attitudes of teachers in open-space classrooms (Y1) and attitudes of teachers in closed-space classrooms (Y2). Other independent variables included race, sex, certification level, age range, and years of teaching experience of the teachers who responded to the research instrument. Data from the instrument were coded and then analyzed using an analysis of variance technique. The ANOVA test was followed by an analysis using Duncan's Multiple Range Test of differences to isolate individual group scores.

Selected Findings and Conclusions

Results of this research support the theory that teachers' attitudes are significantly influenced in a positive direction toward the school building when they are responding from the perspective of teaching in open-space classrooms as compared with the perspective of teaching in closed-space classrooms.

It was found that the race factor was a significant source of variation. Black teachers in closed-space classrooms had the least favorable attitude of any group toward the school building and black teachers in open-space classrooms had the most favorable attitude toward the school building.

Likewise, the white teachers in closed space classrooms displayed a less favorable attitude toward the school building than did the white teachers in open-space classrooms. In the closed-space classrooms the white and black teachers were homogeneous in their attitudes. In the open-space classrooms the black teachers' attitudes were higher than the attitudes of the white teachers and each of these groups had a more favorable attitude than the black or white groups in closed-space classrooms.

Male teachers in open-space classrooms had the most favorable attitude toward the school building. The male and female teachers in closed-space classrooms were homogeneous and had less favorable attitudes than did the female teachers in open-space classrooms or the male teachers in open-space classrooms who were not homogeneous in their attitudes.

For closed-space classrooms, it was also found that the higher the teacher's certification level, the more unfavorable the teacher's attitude was toward the school building. Conversely, for open-spaced classrooms, the higher the teacher's certification level, the more favorable was the teacher's attitude toward the school building.

This summary was compiled by Elizabeth Jago and Ken Tanner

Posted: (February 1999).

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