Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Jose M. Castillo, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Sarah Kiefer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

George Batsche, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kim Eun Sook, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Roger Boothroyd, Ph.D.


classroom environment, social environment, student perceptions, teacher perception, individual factors, elementary schools, middle schools


Although teachers and students are the primary actors in the classroom environment, they often have different perceptions of the instructional and relational aspects of the classroom. Despite these differences, research indicates perceptions of the quality of the classroom social environment have implications for both student and teacher outcomes. Additionally, research has indicated the differences in perceptions occur not only between students and teachers, but also among individual students within classrooms. The extent and the manner in which these perceptions converge may vary across different class and school contexts. School and class context, as well as individual characteristics and beliefs have shown to influence student and teacher perceptions of their environment. Thus, to further understand the relationship between perceptions and outcomes, it is important to understand the factors that influence perception. Therefore, the current study examined (1) the extent to which elementary school students’ and teachers’ perceptions of the classroom social environment differ from middle school students’ and teachers’ perceptions, (2) the extent to which teachers and students in elementary and middle school agree about the classroom social environment, (3) if the degree of convergence between teachers and students differs based on high or low levels of motivational and socio-emotional components of the classroom environment, (4) the extent to which school, classroom, and individual teacher factors help to explain teacher perceptions of their classroom environment, (5) and the extent to which school, classroom, and individual student factors help to explain student perceptions of their classroom environment. The sample comprised of fifth- and sixth-grade students and teachers from ethnically diverse elementary and middle schools. Exploratory factor analyses revealed differences in how teachers and students conceptualize the classroom environment. Results from multiple regression and design-model multi-level modeling indicated that school socio-economic status, classroom gender and ethnic composition, as well as teacher and student demographics and beliefs, influence both teacher and student perceptions of the Classroom Social Environment. Findings from the current study may guide researchers in developing effective instructional practices for specific teacher and student populations and may provide unique contributions to the literature regarding factors that may enhance early adolescences’ and teachers’ experiences in the classroom.