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classroom quality: Classroom environment and processes are the instructional and organizational dimensions of the classroom.

Quality classrooms provide opportunities for students of all different abilities and backgrounds to learn. Designing interaction to be participatory, deliberative, and active empowers students 3 control of their own learning and enables educators to be adaptive and responsive (Eikenberry, Blaszak, Buettner, Morrissette & Redden, 2009). Quality classrooms that foster democratic values, risk taking, and a love of learning can be created, managed, and evaluated through a process of continuous improvement. This type of approach enables educators to analyze and reflect upon their classroom environment, processes, and climate to identify areas for improvement to develop a more conducive educational environment for all students.

Quality in the classroom is a reflection of several aspects that lead to an effective educational environment. Standards, curriculum, assessment, and instructional strategies are just some of the many crucial elements of that quality. This learning object focuses on the procedure for determining quality in your classroom and for developing ways to increase the opportunities for all students to learn, particularly in groups. Every educator can improve upon what they do, and a continuous improvement approach can be incorporated into existing teaching practices. Continuous improvement is, "attained when 'slow and steady' progress is achieved" (Arcaro, 1995, p. 4). It is an important dimension of quality classrooms, as it is necessary to meet the changing needs of diverse students so that designed instruction capitalizes on the students' evolving strengths and interests, enabling them to learn. It is important to use specific indicators for determining effectiveness in the context of a classroom and then to connect them to a systematic approach to improve problematic or weaker areas. A continuous improvement approach provides a structure for collecting, analyzing, and using data to inform the teaching and learning process.

Environment and processes are the instructional and organizational dimensions of the classroom and are comprised of the physical aspects of a classroom, including seating, dry erase/ chalkboards, bulletin boards, technologies, the physical climate, etc. Although a teacher may not have control over their assigned classroom or some of the physical components, the classroom environment can be organized to be functional and attractive. A well-designed classroom evolves based on the objectives of the lessons. Where teamwork is heavily involved, desks can be arranged in groups; where certain tasks are required, such as building and testing, stations can be created. Classroom processes include those surrounding planning, classroom management, and instructional strategies. For example, a classroom process that manages classroom materials and tools is to establish procedures for checking out, using, and maintaining resources.

The classroom environment and processes should be purposeful in how they enable students to learn; to be less educatorcentered, more active, and enable students to direct their own learning individually and in teams. The classroom climate is often a product of the classroom environment and its processes, as well as both educator-student and peer-to-peer interactions. It is important to examine how the teacher approaches the learning environment and who the students are to better inform

the resulting climate of the classroom. A positive classroom climate can influence students' social-emotional and academic outcomes by contributing to greater self-esteem, motivation, academic performance, and fewer disciplinary actions (Brown, Jones, LaRusso & Aber, 2010). An important aspect is structuring the classroom for active and collaborative learning so students can access and learn the intended content.

Improvement does not mean starting from scratch or focusing on the negative. Rather, it involves identifying aspects of the learning environment that can be improved or need more significant attention. Quality is about continuous improvement, which "means doing little and big things better, setting and achieving ever higher standards, working together, and taking the longrange view" (Arcaro, 1995, p. 16). Underlying this approach is the belief that all students can learn and that we should expect the best from each, requiring a flexible, adaptive approach to teaching. Continuous improvement requires educators to be reflective, willing to change and take risks, High-quality educators continually ask how they can do better and provide student feedback that is timely and focused.

This learning object uses principles of highly effective classrooms and guides educators through a process of analyzing their classroom and developing a mode of operation by which they can continue to improve. By focusing on elements of a classroom environment and processes and reflecting upon how they contribute to the climate of the classroom, teachers will be able to pinpoint aspects that can be improved so students are better able to access the educational environment and learn. This process can be transferred to other aspects of teaching as well.


Brown, J. L., Jones, S. M., LaRusso, M. D., & Aber, J. L. (2010). Improving classroom quality; Educator influences and experimental impacts of the 4Rs program. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(1), 153-167.

Deming, W. E. (1950). Elementary principles of the statistical control of quality. Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers.

Eikenberry, A. M., Blaszak, E. N., Buettner, S. L., Morrissette, & Redden, R. J. (2009). Improving quality and creating democracy in the classroom: Student management teams. Administrative Theory & Praxis, 37(1), 119-126.

Vermette, P. J., Jones, K, A., Jones, J. L., Werner, T., Kline, C., D'Angelo, J. (2010). A model for planning learning experiences to promote achievement in diverse secondary classrooms. Journal of the Southeastern Regional Association of Teacher Educators, 79(2), 70-83.

Jennifer Daugherty is an Associate Professor at Louisiana State University.

Jeremy V. Ernst is a Professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Aaron C. Clark, DTE is a Professor at NC State University

V. William DeLuca is Professor Emeritus at NC State University.

Daniel P. Kelly is an Assistant Professor at Texas Tech University.

STEM Teacher Learning ( provides state-of-the-art STEM professional development and continuing education (CEUs) for Technology and Engineering Education teachers. Visit this site to review the eighteen units researched and developed under a National Science Foundation-funded project to improve classroom instruction. STEM Teacher Learning provides these NSF-researched units to local school districts and teachers using cloudbased, self-paced learning and certifies completion. Contact for more information.
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Author:Daugherty, Jennifer; Ernst, Jeremy V.; Clark, Aaron C.; DeLuca, V. William; Kelly, Daniel P.
Publication:Technology and Engineering Teacher
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2018
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