Posted in Discussion, Education

History of the Field of Learning Environment

In the development of learning environments, there are some peoneers who have focused on the field of learning environment. Kurt Lewin and Murray are the first people who are concerned about classroom environment (Fraser, 1986). Their ideas used to work on educational research environment. Lewin (1936) admitted that dominant determinants of human behaviour is environment and the interaction with personal charactersitics. It was introduced in the formula B = f (P,E) which is emphasizes the need for research strategies in which behaviour is considered to be a function of the person and the environment (Fraser, 1986, 2012). Murray (1938) was the first person who followed Lewin’s approach. He introduced a needs-press model which created analogous representation of individual and her or his environment. Motivational personality characteristics describes personal needs (Fraser, 1986). On the other hand, enviromental press refers to external counterpart which determines the expression of internalized personality needs whether can be encouraged or discouraged (Fraser, 1986). Murray also proposed alpha press and beta press term as approach in educational environment. The environment as assessed by a detached observer was described by the term of alpha press, whereas the environment as perceived by milieu inhabitants was described by the term of beta press (Murray, 1938).


Stern has revived and explicated the theory of needs-press in his comprehensive book and widely cited articles (Fraser, 1986). Moreover, based on Murray’s work, Stern (1970) developed personal-environment congruence theory. In this theory, “complimentary combinations of personal needs and environment press could improve student outcomes” (Fraser, 1986).


The other pioneers in the development of learning environment who focused on research which involve assessment of perceptions of classroom environment (Fraser, 1986) are Herbert Walberg and Rudolf Moos. It was more than 40 years ago since Walberg evolved earlier versions of the widely used Learning Environment Inventory (LEI) in research. He was also involved in evaluation activities of Harvard Project Physics (Walberg & Anderson 1968). Moos, collaborated with Edison Trickett, developed the first of his social climate scales in which psychiatric hospital and correctional institutions used, which conclusively caused the development of the Classroom Environment Scale (CES) (Moos & Trickett, 1974). Moos’s scheme for classifying human environments is used as in classification of scales for learning environment instruments. There are three basic dimensions namely Relationship Dimensions, Personal Development Dimensions, and System Maintenance and System Change Dimensions (Fraser, 2012). Relationship Dimensions identify the nature and tension of personal relationship within the environment and assess people’s contributions to help the other one in their environment, while Personal Development Dimensions assess basic directions where personal growth and self-improvement appear. On the other hand, System Maintenance and System Change Dimensions involve the term how the environment is orderly, clear in expectations, is under control, and is responsive to change. In addition, all the learning environment instruments can be classify at least in one of the Moos’s scheme.


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