The Relationship of a Dominant Teaching Perspective and Student Perception of the Classroom Learning Environment

Saturday, 7 November 2015: 3:15 PM

Cindy L. Farris, PhD, MSN, MPH, BSN, CNE
School of Nursing, Indiana University East, Richmond, IN, USA

The scholarship of teaching includes the ability to explore the most effective means of meeting the learning needs of students (Boyer, 1990).  Boyer’s (1990) scholarship of teaching included the ability to explore the most effective means of meeting the learning needs of students. Identifying and reflecting on faculty teaching perspectives provides a foundation for viewing educational practices as well as personal philosophical beliefs and intent (Pratt, Boll, & Collins, 2007). Faculty who are savvy in the diverse needs of today’s students must work diligently to develop effective learning environments that will support and nurture the student’s professional growth and development (Bain, 2004; Penn, Wilson & Rosseter, 2008; Ursano, Kartheiser, & Ursano, 2007). 

An effective classroom environment that is conducive to learning is an important component of a student’s success. The classroom learning environment consists of physical surroundings, psychological conditions, and social contexts created by the characteristics, interactions, and relationship of both the student and instructor (Beer & Darkenwald, 1987, Fraser 1994; Hiemstra, 1991; Rowbotham, 2007; Rowbotham 2010). Overall learning environment research has shown over time that across the globe, languages, cultures, disciplines, and education levels, there are consistent and appreciable associations between classroom environment perceptions and student outcomes (Fraser, 2002b; Senocak, 2009). Learning is definitely influenced in basic fundamental ways by the context in which the education occurs (Bransford, Brown, Coking, Donavan, & Pellegrino, 2000). The classroom learning environment must be designed for active learning and especially utilizing a learner-centered approach (Bransford et al., 2000). Faculty must understand the diversity and experiences of the learners being taught. Understanding the make-up of the students in the classroom will provide a more effective classroom environment. While the literature reports that the educator is an important component of the classroom learning environment, little is known about the relationship between a nursing faculty’s dominant teaching perspective and the nursing student’s perception of the classroom learning atmosphere.

Teaching in higher education is more than just presenting knowledge of content (Menges, 2000). More faculty with no specific educational preparation, experience, development, and training in the components of the role of teaching in the classroom are being hired to teach in undergraduate nursing programs (Beres, 2006). Effective teaching in a higher education setting includes recognition and reflection of dominant teaching perspectives including personal theories of teaching and learning to be utilized in the classroom (Menges, 2000; Pratt & Associates, 1998). Without background in understanding perspective on teaching, the faculty will be unable to assess future goals in effective teaching strategies.

Historically, the role of the higher education faculty has continued to evolve into a multifaceted responsibility. Higher education faculty rarely receive training as an educator, as graduate programs lack specific teaching role development courses (Deggs, Machtmes & Johnson, 2008). What faculty members do as teachers, how time is spent, teaching goals, and instructional methods have all been researched; however little research has been done on how teachers derive personal theories of teaching and learning (Menges, 2000). Further, personal philosophy, teacher preference, and educational preparation need to be explored especially in combination with the classroom environment.

Using a quantitative correlational study, a research question was proposed considering a relationship between nursing faculty dominant teaching perspectives and nursing student’s perception of the classroom environment. A A total of 12 nursing faculty responded to a demographic questionnaire as well as the Teaching Perspective Inventory (TPI) to determine personal dominant teaching perspectives. Overall, 422 nursing students from four regional public university campuses in the Midwest completed a demographic questionnaire and the College and University Classroom Environment Inventory (CUCEI) to determine the student’s perception of the classroom environment. Through the use of a hierarchical linear model of data analysis, the results of the study noted that there was a statistically significant relationship between the transmission and development teaching perspectives and the nursing students’ perception of the classroom environment. Further significance was noted between older nursing faculty, accelerated BSN track, master’s degree in nursing education, and obtaining a previous degree prior to nursing in relationship to student’s perception of the classroom environment.