ERG SES H 09, Learning Environments in Education
Social Cognitive Theory suggests that human functioning can be explained in terms of the reciprocal interactions between personal, behavioral, and environmental factors (Bandura, 1986). Among these factors, classroom learning environment is reported to have important role in students’ academic achievement (Fraser & Walberg, 1991, Walberg, 1981). Therefore, investigating the features of learning environment that positively affects students’ learning outcomes is crucial for improving instructional quality, and reaching educational goals. Actually, studies on learning environment have been remarkably accelerated after 1960’s by the development of several measures of classroom learning environment. Most recently, Fraser, Fisher, and McRobbie (1996) developed WIHIC questionnaire by including subscales which had been frequently found associated with student’s learning outcomes, WIHIC also prepared by considering contemporary cognitive approach to science learning (Kim, Fisher, & Fraser, 2000). WIHIC questionnaire includes 7 dimensions: (1) Student Cohesiveness, emphasizing the student-student interaction in terms of how friendly, helpful, and supportive they are to each other, (2) Teacher Support, concerning how helpful, friendly, and supportive teachers are to their students, (3) Involvement, emphasizing the extent to which students have attentive interest, participate in classroom activities, and enjoy the class, (4) Investigation, focusing on the skills and inquiry and to the extent that students use them in problem solving and investigation, (5) Task Orientation, involving whether students accomplish the given tasks and planned activities, and focus on the works they were expected to do, (6) Cooperation, emphasizing the students cooperation with each other while doing classroom activities, and (7) Equity, concerning whether teachers treat students equally in terms of feedback, praise, asking questions, and opportunities (Waldrip, Fisher & Dorman, 2009). According to Waldrip et al. (2009) using WIHIC when examining learning environments is beneficial for predicting student outcomes.
According to relevant literature, another important factor influencing student achievement appears to be teacher effectiveness (Bolyard & Moyer-Packenham, 2008). Teacher effectiveness research considers several characteristics of teachers and suggests that teachers may influence students learning processes by several ways (Patrick & Smart, 1998). In the current study teacher effectiveness was examined in terms of teacher beliefs and occupational well-being. Regarding teacher beliefs, this study focused on teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs (Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk Hoy, 2001) and implicit beliefs about intelligence (Dweck, 1999). Occupational well-being, on the other hand, was investigated in terms of job satisfaction, emotional exhaustion, and personal accomplishment. Although some researchers suggested that teachers’ occupational well-being, self-efficacy beliefs, and implicit beliefs about intelligence have substantial effect on students’ learning processes and classroom learning environment, these variables are rarely studied empirically. Moreover, although there are several studies that examined the relationship between classroom learning environment and student outcomes (e.g., den Brok, Telli, Cakiroglu, Taconis, & Tekkaya, 2010; Chionh & Fraser, 1998; Snyder, 2005; Wolf & Fraser, 2008), little is known about the influence of teacher beliefs and occupational well-being on these variables and these associations. As well as overmentioned teacher variables, teachers’ gender and experience will also be considered while examining the relationship between learning environment and science achievement. Thus, the present study is expected to extend the information about the variables that influence middle school students’ science learning. Accordingly the main research question guided to this study is that:
To what extent do perceived classroom learning environment and teacher effectiveness (i.e., occupational well-being, beliefs, experience, and gender) predict students’ science achievement?
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