How students' interpretation of place relate to educational experiences in high school

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University of Alabama Libraries

Schools are designed, renovated, and built without much consideration given to how students experience the very halls they walk or the classrooms they inhabit. As a result, educational researchers often render absent the impact of school places on students and overemphasize nonmaterial considerations such as curricula or accountability. This lack of knowledge leads educational stakeholders to assume that particular practices in teaching, organization, and policy will affect the educational experiences of students in beneficial ways. The purpose of this research is to explore students' interpretation of the school environment, referred to as place, as it relates to the experiences in high school. The study used an in-depth interviewing strategy that involved a walking tour, individual interviews, and focus groups of 16 high school students from central Alabama. The findings suggest that the place of school is multidimensional. Place shapes us cognitively, emotionally, and physically. The study explores these dimensions in order to explain how place shapes us through experience. The results demonstrate that educational stakeholders can benefit from an understanding of how students perceive their schools and the particular places they comprise.

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