Problem Statement: The physical environment of the classroom has an impact on various components of the teaching and learning processes. Recently, there has been research into the relationship between classroom management and the physical environment in elementary schools. However, the focus of these studies was only on one dimension of the physical environment of the classroom such as the relationship between class size or the physical environment and academic achievement. Therefore, there is a need for research into how early childhood teachers perceive the impact of the physical environment on classroom management.
Purpose of Study:This study aimed to examine the perceptions of a group of early childhood teachers in Ankara, Turkey, in relation to the influence of the physical environment of the classroom on classroom management. More specifically, the present study examined teachers’ perceptions about the factors that influence their classroom management practices, how the physical environment of the classroom influences their instructional processes and teacher-student interactions, and elicited suggestions from teachers about improving the physical environment.
Method: This study is a qualitative study where the data was obtained from a semi-structured interview schedule containing 16 questions; six pertained to demographic items while the remaining 10 open-ended questions aimed to investigate the teacher’s perceptions. The participants were 36 female early childhood education teachers.
Findings: Content analysis was performed at the end of the study. The themes that emerged from the findings were categorized as follows: (1) factors influencing classroom management, (2) physical characteristics of classrooms, (3) strengths and weaknesses of the physical environment, (4) remedies for the weaknesses of the environment, and (5) suggestions for improving the physical environment.
Conclusions and Recommendations: A combination of semi-structured interviews and observations of classroom practice can create a wider picture of the teachers’ perceptions. In addition, since the physical environment is important in both primary and secondary education, the same study could be applied to teachers working at other grade levels to examine their beliefs concerning the relationship between the physical environment and classroom management.
Keywords: Teacher perceptions, classroom management, preschool physical environment, content analysis.