Implications for Educational Practice and Policy

Elementary School Students’ Learning Preferences and the Classroom Learning Environment: Implications for Educational Practice and Policy

Johnson, Leona M

The purpose of this study was to investigate fifth grade students’ perceptions of learning preferences for individualistic, competitive, cooperative, and communal learning. This investigation also examined students’ perceptions of their classroom-learning environment, including what students liked best around the classroom and their favorite learning activities. The findings revealed that students prefer group learning compared to individualistic and competitive learning. Over seventy percent of students across geographic areas (urban, rural, and suburban areas) revealed preferences for hands-on classroom activities, including activities that promote learning and allow students to have fun at the same time, rather than passive activities. The values of the teacher and classmates, as well as the physical arrangement and components of the classroom, were revealed.

Over the past 20 years, the importance of the classroom learning environment has been increasingly recognized (Aldridge, Fraser, & Huang, 1999). Teachers’ and students’ perceptions of classroom learning environments have received increasing attention from educators (Dart, Burnett, Purdie, Boulton-Lewis, Campbell, & Smith, 2000). Characteristics of effective classrooms that research has identified as increasing student engagement include a positive and caring learning climate in which constructive student and teacher social interactions take place (Johnson, 2003; Wang, Haertel, & Walberg, 1993). In these classrooms, students and teachers share common interests and values and emphasize cooperative goals (Johnson, 2003; Wang, Haertel & Walberg, 1993). However, few studies have examined African American students’ perceptions of the learning environment (Howard, 2002; Waxman & Huang, 1997; Wilson, 2002). As an exception, Waxman and Huang (1997) confirm in several preliminary investigations that African American students have different perceptions of their instructional and classroom learning environment.

The purpose of the present study was to extend the investigation of elementary African American and other students’ (i.e., White, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American) perceptions of learning preferences by drawing on interests among educators in four learning preferences: (a) cooperative, (b) competitive, (c) individualistic, and (d) communal interdependence. The focus on learning preferences captures students’ voices relative to their viewpoints on the process of how students learn and assesses student perceptions of the classroom learning environment relative to learning instruction. This study also examined the implications for educational policy, practice, and research of student-learning preferences, activities of the classroom learning environment, and student-learning choices. In addition, this study adds to a growing body of empirical research on learning preferences and the classroom environment from the student’s viewpoint. The student’s perception of learning preferences and the classroom environment can shed light on what works best for the student in a classroom setting. By studying schools and classrooms from the perspectives of students, researchers can gain insight concerning how students view their classroom activities, instruction, and curriculum, and these views can be considered when working toward improving achievement and motivation, and, ultimately schools. In addition, research on learning preferences may help educators promote multicultural awareness and develop teaching strategies compatible with diverse cultures.


Learning Preferences

Recently, more emphasis is being placed on the learning preferences of African American children in the areas of cognitive development and socialization. This is paramount, when the inordinate influence of culture on the overall African American experience and cognitive outcomes is considered (Boykin, 1983; Delpit, 1995; Hale-Benson, 1986). Findings suggest that African American cultural factors influence the psychological processes and cognitive outcomes of African American students and their achievement (Allen & Boykin, 1992; Hale-Benson, 1986; Hilliard, 1992; Shade, 1989). Research in cooperative learning has shown how students can work together in an interactive fashion to learn.

A great deal of research has been conducted comparing the relative effects of cooperative, competitive, and individualistic efforts on instructional outcomes (Gabbert, Johnson, & Johnson, 1986; Johnson & Johnson, 1981; Johnson, Johnson, Johnson, & Anderson, 1976; Johnson, Johnson, & Scott, 1978; Johnson, Johnson, & Skon, 1979; Johnson, Johnson, & Stanne, 2000; Johnson, Johnson, Stanne, & Garibaldi, 1989; Johnson, Johnson, & Taylor, 1993; Johnson, Maruyama, Johnson, Nelson, & Skon, 1981; Slavin, Madden, & Leavey, 1984; Smith, Johnson, & Johnson, 1982; Yager, Johnson, Johnson, & Snider, 1986). During the past 100 years, more than 550 experimental and 100 correlational studies have been conducted by a wide variety of researchers in different decades with diverse age groups, in various subject areas, and in a variety of settings (Johnson & Johnson, 1989).

On the question of how successful competitive, individualistic, and cooperative efforts are in promoting productivity and achievement, more than 375 studies have been conducted in the past 100 years (Johnson & Johnson, 1989). Johnson and Johnson (1999) conclude that working together to achieve a common goal produces higher achievement and greater productivity than working alone. Cooperative learning results in greater transfer of what is learned (i.e., more higher-level reasoning, more frequent generation of new ideas and solutions), greater transfer of what is learned in one situation to another (i.e., group to individual transfer), and more time on task than is achieved with competitive or individualistic learning.

Researchers have found that pedagogy in contemporary American schools is much the same as during the last half of the 19th century (Perreault, 1995). Sirotnik (1983) and Goodlad (1984), for example, found that contemporary teachers “out-talked” students by a 3:1 ratio; that teachers devoted little time for questioning of any sort and almost no time to open questions calling for complex cognitive and emotional responses; and that whole-class instruction predominates, with almost no independent, small-group, or cooperative student work. Schools influence students to be individualistic and competitive in their work activities. Most of the instructional time is spent writing and performing seat work (Wilson, 2002). Research indicates that national academic activities are often based on competition and individual achievement (Bennett, 1979; Goodlad, 1984; Hale, 2001; Miller & Boykin, 1998). Although lectures can be a valid and stimulating mode of instruction, a classroom predominated by a teacher talking can stifle the capacity of students to be active learners (Levine, 1994).

A more recent group learning method that takes advantage of Afrocultural expression is the communal learning approach, which highlights the interdependence of students. This concept has been widely discussed in the literature on the African American experience and prescriptive pedagogy (Akbar, 1979; Albury, 1993; Allen & Boykin, 1992; Boykin, Jagers, Ellison, & Albury, 1997; Foster, 1983; Nobles, 1991). The Boykin et al. (1997) study provided a direct measure of the communal ism concept based on three research samples. In each sample, greater endorsement by the African American study participants of the communalism construct was associated with a more cooperative academic attitude. Results from studies by Boykin and Bailey (2000) also suggest that African American children preferred cooperative learning to individualistic or competitive learning, preferred to participate in communal rather than individualistic activities, and indicated a greater preference for variability rather than routine. Extending the work of Albury (1993) with a sample of seventy-two, low-income 5th-grade, African Americans students, the Boykin and Bailey (2000) study revealed that students’ preference for communal learning was significantly higher than their endorsement of individualistic learning, as measured by the Personal Beliefs and Behaviors Measure (PBBM). Johnson, Johnson, and Stanne (2000) provide evidence which indicates that of the eight diverse methods researched, all methods produced higher achievement than competitive and individualized learning, and the more conceptual approaches to cooperative learning may produce higher achievement than the direct methods. The Ellison, Boykin, Tyler, and Dillihunt (2005) study on classroom learning preferences among elementary students confirmed that students preferred cooperative learning to competitive and individualistic learning. This study also reported that African American students had significantly higher preferences for cooperative learning than their White counterparts, while White students held stronger preferences for both individualistic and competitive learning than African American students (Ellison et al., 2005). Finally, research suggests that culture is instrumental in maximizing learning outcomes (Boykin & Bailey, 2000), and that culturally relevant teaching plays a critical role in enhancing positive learning outcomes (Delpit, 1995, Ladson-Billings, 1994a, 1994b, 2001). Therefore, teaching styles that maximize the student’s culture may be effective in producing positive learning outcomes (Ladson-Billings, 1995a, 1995b; Shade, 1997b).

The Classroom Learning Environment

Contemporary classroom environment research, begun by Walberg in 1968 and developed by Fraser since the early 1980s, has shown the importance of looking at students’ perceptions of their learning environments (Fraser, 1986; Walberg, 1968). Other studies, such as those by Wong (1993, 1996), used investigative methods to assess the classroom environment. The Wong (1993) study used open-ended questions to explore students’ perceptions of the learning environments in mathematics classes. This study reported that many students identified the teacher as the most crucial element in a positive learning environment. Although the classroom learning environment has been studied extensively in recent years, still little is known about the ways in which some students perceive certain aspects of their learning environment (MacAulay, 1990; Waxman, Huang, Anderson, & Weinstein, 1997; Wilson, 2002).


Research Participants and Instrumentation

Two hundred fourteen 5th-grade elementary students from six elementary schools in urban, suburban, and rural geographic areas in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. participated in the study. Two schools were selected from each geographic area representing diverse, ethnic student populations. The Social Interdependence Scales, PBBM, Perceptions of the Classroom Learning Environment Questionnaire, and a student demographic questionnaire were used in the study.

The Social Interdependence Scales was used to measure student attitudes on learning preferences for individualistic, competitive, and cooperative learning as defined by the Johnson and Norem-Hebeisen (1979) Social Interdependence Scales; The PBBM (Boykin & Pippin, 1997) was used to measure the students’ preference for communal beliefs and behaviors; The Perceptions of the Classroom Learning Environment Questionnaire was developed by this researcher (Johnson, 2003) to secure additional feedback on the students’ learning preferences and the students’ perception of classroom ecology, including the students’ perceptions of the learning environment as it relates to classroom instruction; and a demographic questionnaire was used to obtain demographic information about the student, including: (a) the gender of the student, and (b) the ethnicity of the student.

Reliability Analyses

The internal reliability of the Social Interdependence Scale and the PBBM was conducted using Cronbach’s alpha to assess the internal consistency of the subscales and to investigate the degree to which the same characteristics were measured given the diverse mix of ethnic students participating in the study. The resulting Cronbach’s alpha coefficients were .66 for the Social Interdependence Scales and .81 for the PBBM. Table 1 is a summary of the Cronbach alpha statistics for the three subscales of the Social Interdependence Scales.


In the rural schools, 22 students from the first school participated, and 35 students from the second school participated for a total of 57 students. In the suburban schools, 55 students participated from the first school, and 48 students participated from the second school, for a total of 103 students. In the urban schools, 5 students participated from the first school, and 49 students participated from the second school, for a total of 54 students. Among the students who participated, 103 were male, and 109 were female, with two students not identifying their gender for a total of 214 5th-grade students. Of those students, 56 were African American, 122 were White, 4 were Latino/Hispanic, 3 were Asian-American, 6 were Native American, and 23 students indicated “Other” as their ethnic background.

During five consecutive weeks, the researcher administered all of the instruments to participating fifth-grade students per school, with the exception of one urban school, where the instruments were administered to three individual classes at that specific school. The data collection was conducted in the morning or an hour before lunch so that the students were settled and focused. Administration of the questionnaires took an average of 40 minutes.


Descriptive Analysis of Learning Preferences

The study examined student-learning preferences from the students’ points of view. A descriptive analysis of student-learning preferences revealed that fifth grade elementary school students in urban, suburban, and rural schools prefer group learning (cooperative learning and communal learning), as compared to competitive and individualistic learning. Overall, students’ means on the Cooperative subscale measure (M = 3.98, SD = .65) and Communal Scale measure (M = 3.16, SD = .43), as compared to their mean subscale scores on the Competitive learning subscale measure (M = 2.75, SD = .93) and Individualistic learning subscale measure (M = 2.03, SD = .82), suggest that students in the various ethnic groups share a common preference for group learning.

Statistical Analysis of Learning Preferences and Learning Choices

A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted to determine the effect of geographic area (suburban, rural, and urban) and ethnicity (African American, White, Native American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Other) based on students’ mean scores across the variables of the Social Interdependence subscales and the PBBM scale. Based on gender (boys and girls), t tests analyses were conducted to test for mean differences in students’ perceptions of the four learning preferences. A chi-square test was conducted to determine the possible differences relative to gender, ethnicity, and geographic area on student self-reported learning choices (working alone, competing, or working in a group). The significance level was set at p

A one-way ANOVA for each learning preference was conducted to determine the effect of geographic area of school (urban, rural, and suburban) on means for each of the four learning preferences: Cooperative, F(2, 211) = 1.79, p = .16; Competitive, F(2, 211) = .22, p = .80; Individualistic, F(2,210) = 1.01, p = .36; and Communal, F(2, 210) = 2.79, p = .06. No significant difference were found between the means for students across the three geographic areas on the four learning preferences was found.

A one-way ANOVA for each learning preference was conducted to test for differences between means by ethnic group for each learning student preference. No significant difference between the means for students in the various ethnic groups (African American, White, Native American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Other) were found: Cooperative, F(5, 207) = 1.78, p = .11; Competitive, F(5, 207) = .73, p = .59; Individualistic, F(5, 206) = 1.08, p = .37; and Communal, F(5,206) = 1.64, p = .14.

T test analyses were conducted to test for mean differences in students’ perceptions of learning preferences (cooperative, communal, individualistic, and communal learning) as a function of gender (boys and girls). No significant differences were found between the means of boys and girls for the Cooperative, Competitive, and Communal learning preference: Cooperative, t(103) = .89, p = .37; Competitive t(103) = .67, p = .50; and Communal t(103) = .61, p = .53. The t test comparisons based on paired samples showed a significant difference between the means for boys and girls on the Individualistic learning preference, t(103) = 2.014, p = .04.

A Chi square analysis test was conducted to determine the possible differences relative to gender, ethnicity, and geographic area on student self-reported learning choices (working alone, competing, or working in a group). Based on the cross-tabulation of gender and learning choices, no differences were found between groups, x^sup 2^(2, N = 210) = 5.06, p = .68; no differences were found between ethnic groups relative to learning choices, x^sup 2^ (10, N = 212) = 17.06, p = .07; and no differences were found between geographic areas relative to student-learning choices, x^sup 2^(4, N = 212) = 4.88, p = .29.

Qualitative Analyses

To augment the examination of students’ attitudes relative to learning preferences, the study examined student-learning choices (the learning approach that students liked best which included working alone, competing, or working in groups) using qualitative analyses. Results revealed that fifth-grade elementary school students in urban, suburban, and rural schools prefer cooperative learning, as compared to competitive and individualistic learning. This analysis confirmed that 73% of students across the three geographic areas perceived group learning as the way that they liked to learn best. Working alone was the way that 14.78% of students perceived that they liked to learn, and 12% of students perceived that competing with others was the best way to learn. Overall, descriptive analyses confirmed that students (both boys and girls) display a preference for learning in groups.

Questions from the Perception of the Classroom Learning Environment focused on studentlearning activities of the classroom, including (a) students’ perceptions of their favorite learning activity, (b) students’ perceptions of learning activities enjoyed the least and why, and (c) what students liked best about the classroom. The top three favorite learning activities enjoyed by fifthgrade elementary students across the three geographic areas were (a) educational games, including games in school subject areas, (b) science experiments, and (c) working in groups. Student responses suggest that students have an enthusiasm for learning and that they prefer augmenting the learning process with active engagement with teachers, and they like to learn in a “fun” way. Educational games, which advance learning as well as subject matter that can be learned in a fun way, suggest that student educational outcomes can be advanced further in these activities. Forty percent of the students indicated that games were their favorite learning activity.

The top three learning activities enjoyed the least by fifth-grade elementary students across the three geographic areas were (a) reading, including reading aloud and from textbooks; (b) writing and working alone; and (c) taking notes in the classroom. Activities that encourage moving around rather than sitting to read quietly or reading without interaction (without benefit of summary or discussion) was considered boring to students. Results suggest that fifth-grade school students are open to fun and innovative strategies to advance learning. The preference for active rather than passive activities are in line with their favorite and most liked learning activities, which focus on hands-on activities, including educational games, science experiments, and working in groups.

The question of what fifth-grade elementary students liked about the classroom included four key responses, including: (a) the teacher, (b) the teacher and friends, (c) classmates, and (d) the arrangements of seats in the classroom. Table 2 provides a summary of what students liked best about the classroom. Results suggest that students value teachers who they can relate to and who are willing to help them along in the learning process. Across the three geographic areas, 17% of the students indicated that they best like their teachers in the classroom. Moreover, 18% of the students across the geographic areas indicated that they best like the teacher and friends in the classroom. Having friends in the classroom was perceived to be an important element in the student’s classroom ecology. The classroom climate, including the physical layout of the classroom, was important to the students, since the surroundings were perceived to influence educational outcomes as well as socialization. Working in groups was valued as a classroom learning activity. Student comments received suggested that students not only value the ideas of others, but that they also like being in an environment where they can work in a group, and at the same time, advance individual learning. While students indicated that reading alone and reading aloud were least preferred learning activities, they noted that reading with partners is preferable. Overall, active engagement with students and teachers was perceived as a valued-learning activity. Figures 1 and 2 summarize student preferences for student-learning activities and classroom preferences across urban, rural, and suburban areas.

In summary, overall students share a preference for group learning across the three geographic areas. Moreover, students share a social interdependence and a sense of connectedness based on mean scale scores from the PBBM, which is in line with their perception of liking to work in groups. Results show that fifth-grade students were more alike in their preferences for learning, based on ANOVA and chi-square analyses. Significant mean differences were found for male and female students for individualistic learning; however, group learning was identified as the predominant learning choice based on descriptive analyses.


Based on this research study, there are implications for policy and practice as well as research. The importance of students’ viewpoints on learning preferences and the classroom climate can potentially be a powerful contributor to enhancing educational outcomes. As the culturally diverse population continues to grow, it is becoming important to increase the achievement of culturally diverse students (Daeschner, Munoz, & Barnes, 2004). Findings of this study have implications for the ways teachers recognize cultural diversity and structure teaching strategies and classroom instruction. This study raises the question of how the viewpoints of students can be actively engaged to improve their educational outcomes. In addition, findings of the study have implications for the design of teacher preparation programs, which help prepare future educators to teach students effectively.

Jung (2004) confirms that teacher education programs should provide avenues for pre-service teachers to engage in a dynamic process of examining perceptions of diversity relative to students and teaching in their courses. When teachers and administrators are aware of student-learning preferences, the curriculum may be restructured to explore this focus to examine these specific preferences. Schools of education, then, may better develop programs that will attract and prepare candidates to become teachers.

Research confirms that teachers may not have adequate diversity awareness preparation (Jung 2004; Mason & Ndubuike, 2005). A suggested approach to raising diversity awareness in teachers would be a more comprehensive exposure of students to cultural diversity using a comprehensive and systematic framework for cultural awareness with the goal of continuous improvement of the curriculum and instruction (Mason & Ndubuike, 2005). Additionally, a closer examination of current practices must address the perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes of pre-service teachers as they interact with minority children in urban settings, as their beliefs impact the expectations of students (Jung, 2004). The Jung study concluded that pre-service teachers who perceived themselves as more confident in their ability to teach diverse learners tended to have a more positive attitude about teaching learners from diverse backgrounds.

The demands of teaching more challenging content to diverse learners suggest a need for teacher education that enables them to become more sophisticated in their understanding of the effects of content and learner variability on teaching and learning. Darling-Hammond and Synder (1999) posit that teachers may need to become more skilled in their ability to evaluate teaching situations and develop responses that can be effective under different situations, instead of implementing set routines. How teachers prepare for the transfer of learning in the classroom is instrumental in maximizing educational outcomes. Procedures that teachers use in the classroom may impact the transfer of learning if they are not in synergy with the student’s learning preference. Matching teaching style with learning preference needs careful consideration from a teacher who plans on transferring knowledge in the classroom.

This study points out the importance of teachers in the classroom learning environment and the importance of student-teacher relationships. Based on results from this study, students will want to know that the teacher is caring and interested in helping them learn. Student trust and positive expectations of teachers are perceived as being of paramount importance in studentteacher relationships. Darling-Hammond (1997) proposes that students’ trust in their teachers helps them to develop the commitment and motivation to tackle challenging learning tasks and that teachers’ connections to and understanding of their students help those students to develop the commitment and capacity to overcome challenges associated with learning. Darling-Hammond (1997) assumes that developing more humane and psychologically healthy schools requires school structures and strategies that allow for caring interactions and that these depend in turn on policies that strengthen educator preparation and promote personalization of schools so that greater intimacy and understanding are possible.

Daeschner, Munoz, and Barnes (2004) contend that schools in which students attend and what their teachers know had more influence on student achievement than students’ families and ethnicity. Results from this study imply that students can be motivated to learn when the learning material is fun and exciting and when they can interact with and learn from other students. This has implications for textbook suppliers and educational game developers who could provide tools to potentially augment and hone classroom work. Furthermore, teachers could explore the use of the motivational and reinforcement techniques with homework assignments and other innovative activities, when students are away from the classroom.

Teachers face the challenge of not only designing ways to motivate students to learn while accommodating the learning preferences of diverse students, but also, determining how to make the subject matter more exciting so that it actively engages students and improves educational outcomes in the classroom. As teachers gain a more comprehensive understanding of students’ likes and dislikes in the classroom, teachers may need to re-design learning strategies and curriculum by using alternative and creative strategies. In addition, students indicate that friends are important to them in the classroom. It will be important for teachers to look at ways to provide active engagement between students as well, such as peer tutoring and the use of the “zone of proximal development” by the teacher and peers (Johnson, 2003). Moreover, the exploration of how peer tutoring can advance educational outcomes might potentially be helpful.

Moving to a potentially new mode of teaching, such as using group learning (i.e., cooperative or communal learning) may require a change in teaching styles. Like many other changes that enhance successful learning, the shift to group learning depends on changes in school policies. Darling-Hammond (1997) confirms that policies are needed that do not assume a single approach to school organization, but support a stronger base of teacher knowledge for this more complexed practice. When common goals and commitments motivate school life, learning becomes more powerful because it is cumulative. Educators should be encouraged to search for opportunities to expand and enhance their knowledgebase. Ideally, students’ learning and their teachers’ learning should be continuous and complement each other. An education system should be involved in offering its teachers opportunities for professional development (Swindle, Walker, & Breaux, 2004).


In order to facilitate active learning, specific strategies would need to be executed. Effective pedagogy would require academic materials designed so that learning would be fun and interactive, yet achieve learning objectives. Teachers would need to be familiar with the materials and be comfortable with them. Time is required for teachers to set up active-learning tasks, note and monitor students’ needs and accomplishments, and direct students to take on new tasks or resources as appropriate. Futhermore, teacher evaluation systems would need to recognize teachers by offering them incentives for taking on this new approach (Darling-Hammond, 1997).

Although students are not solely the products of their cultures and vary in the degree to which they identify cultures, there are some distinct cultural behaviors that are associated with ethnic groups. Teachers should be culturally responsive to students from diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, and language groups (Banks, 1999). In the classroom, no teacher can take into account all of the learning preferences of each individual student, however, by closely examining student reflections, teachers can make their approach a more comprehensive one that includes diverse preferences. Moreover, finding ways to secure student feedback and effectively assess students’ viewpoints on learning preferences and perceptions of the classroom, including actively engaging the student in the learning process, may enhance instructional practices for all students. Tatum (2001) confirms that teachers who listen to the voices of their students are more likely to construct classrooms that are responsive to the needs of the students that they teach.

Teachers face a challenge to determine how the various learning preferences can be effectively used in the classroom to maximize educational outcomes. Diversity in the classroom is both an opportunity and a challenge for educational policy and practice. The more that is known about students’ learning preferences and their perceptions of the classroom learning environment, the more policymakers and researchers can effect productive solutions to maximize educational outcomes for diverse learners and prepare students for a future in a global society (Johnson & Protheroe, 2003).


Akbar, N. (1979). African roots of Black personality. In W. Smith, K. Burlew, M. Mosely, & W. Whitney (Eds.), Reflections on Black psychology (pp. 79-87). Washington, DC: University Press of America.

Albury, A. (1993). Social orientations, learning conditions, and learning outcomes among low-income Blacks and White grade school children. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Howard University, Washington, DC.

Aldridge, J. M., Fraser, B. J., & Huang, T. I. (1999). Investigating classroom environments in Taiwan and Australia with multiple research methods. Journal of Educational Research, 93, 4-61.

Allen, B. A., & Boykin, A. W. (1992). African-American children and the educational process: Alleviating cultural discontinuity through prescriptive pedagogy. School Psychology Review, 21, 586-596.

Banks, J. A. (1999). Multicultural education in the new century. The School Administrator, 56, 8-10.

Bennett, C. (1979). Teaching students as they would be taught the importance of cultural perspective. In B. J. Shade (Ed.), Culture, style, and the educative process (pp. 71-84). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

Boykin, A. W. (1983). The academic performance of Afro-American children. In J. Spence (Ed.), Achievement and achievement motives (pp. 321-371). San Francisco: Freeman.

Boykin, A. W., & Bailey, C. T. (2000). The role of cultural actors in school relevant cognitive functioning (CRESPAR Report # 42). Washington, DC: Howard University, Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk.

Boykin, A. W., Jagers, R. J., Ellison, C. M., & Albury, A. (1997). Communalism: Conceptualization and measurement of an Afrocultural social orientation. Journal of Black Studies, 27, 409-418.

Boykin, A. W., & Pippin, M. A. (1997, April). Psychometric properties of cultural orientation measures and their implications for the schooling of African-American students placed at risk. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL.

Daeschner, S. W., Munoz, M. A., & Barnes, J. A. (2004). Meeting the challenge of closing the achievement gap: What can we learn from urban, high-poverty/racially mixed schools? ERS Spectrum, 22, 4-15.

Darling-Hammond, L. (1997). The right to learn. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass Publishers.

Darling-Hammond, L., & Snyder, J. (1999). Authentic assessment of teaching in context. Teaching and Teacher Education, 16, 523-545.

Dart, B. C., Burnett, P. C., Purdie, N., Boulton-Lewis, G., Campbell, J., & Smith, D. (2000). Students’ conceptions of learning, the classroom environment, and approaches to learning. Journal of Educational Research, 93, 262-270.

Delpit, L. (1995). Other people’s children: Cultural conflicts in the classroom. New York: The New Press.

Ellison, C. M., Boykin, A. W., Tyler, K. M., & Dillihunt, M. L. (2005). Examining classroom preferences among elementary school students. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 33, 699-708.

Foster, H. (1983). African patterns in the Afro-American family. Journal of Black Studies, 14, 201-232.

Fraser, B. J. (1986). Classroom environment. London: Croom Helm.

Gabbert, B., Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1986). Cooperative learning, group-to-individual transfer, process gain, and the acquisition of cognitive reasoning strategies. Journal of Psychology, 120, 265-278.

Goodlad, J. (1984). A place called school: Prospects for the future. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Hale-Benson, J. E. (1986). Black children: Their roots, culture, and learning styles. (Rev. ed.). Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Hale, J. E. (2001). Learning while Black. Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins University Press.

Hilliard, A. G. III. (1992). Behavioral style, culture, and teaching and learning. The Journal of Negro Education, 61, 370-377.

Howard, T. C. (2002). Hearing footsteps in the dark: African-American students’ descriptions of effective teachers. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 7, 425-428.

Johnson, D. W., & Norem-Hebeisen, A. A. (1979). A measure of cooperative, competitive, and individualistic attitudes. The Journal of Social Psychology, 109, 253-261.

Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1981). Effects of cooperative and individualistic learning experiences on inter-ethnic interaction. Journal of Educational Psychology, 73, 444-449.

Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1989). Cooperation and competition: Theory and research. Edina, MN: Interaction Book Company.

Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1999). Making cooperative learning work. Theory into Practice, 38, 67-73.

Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., Johnson, J., & Anderson, D. (1976). Effects of cooperative learning versus individualized instruction on student prosocial behavior, attitudes toward learning, and achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 68, 446-452.

Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., & Scott, L. (1978). The effects of cooperative learning and individualized instruction on student attitudes and achievement. Journal of Social Psychology, 104, 207-216.

Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., & Skon, L. (1979). Student achievement on different types of tasks under cooperative, competitive, and individualistic conditions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 4, 99-106.

Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., & Stanne, M. B. (2000). Cooperative learning methods: A melaanalysis. Retrieved October 15, 2003 from

Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., Stanne, M. B., & Garibaldi, A. (1989). Impact of goal and resource interdependence on problem-solving success on a computer assisted task. Journal of Social Psychology, 129, 621-629.

Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., & Taylor, B. (1993). Impact of cooperative and individualistic learning on high ability students’ achievement, self-esteem, and social acceptance. Journal of Social Psychology, 133, 839-844.

Johnson, D. W., Maruyama, G., Johnson, R., Nelson, D., & Skon, L. (1981). Effects of cooperative, competitive, and individualistic goal structures on achievement: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 89, 47-62.

Johnson, L. M. (2003). Learning preferences of fifth grade students in the Mid-Atlantic metropolitan elementary schools. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Howard University, Washington, DC.

Johnson, L. M., & Protheroe, N. (2003). Culture and learning. Arlington, VA: Educational Research Service.

Jung, W. S. (2004). Confidence levels and attitudes of preservice teachers toward teaching students from culturally and linguistically different backgrounds in white dominated liberal arts colleges. The Ohio Journal of Teacher Education, 17, 21-26.

Ladson-Billings, G. (1994a). The dreamkeepers: Successful teachers of African-American children. San Francisco: Jossey Bass Inc.

Ladson-Billings, G. (1994b). What we can learn from multicultural education research. Educational Leadership, 51, 22-26.

Ladson-Billings, G. (1995a). But that’s just good teaching! The case for culturally relevant pedagogy. Theory Into Practice, 34, 159-165.

Ladson-Billings, G. (1995b). Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal, 32, 465-491.

Ladson-Billings, G. (2001). Crossing over to Canaan. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Levine, D. U. (1994). Instructional approaches and interventions that can improve the academic performance of African American students. The Journal of Negro Education, 63, 46-63.

MacAulay, D. J. (1990). Classroom environment: A literature review. Educational Psychology, 10, 239-253.

Mason, E. L., & Ndubuike, D. I. I. (2005). Preparing pre-service teachers for diverse classrooms. Journal of Intercultural Disciplines, 5, 99-109.

Miller, O., & Boykin, A. W. (1998). In search of cultural themes and their expressions in the dynamics of classroom life. Unpublished manuscript, Howard University and Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk, (CRESPAR).

Nobles, W. W. (1991). African philosophy: Foundations of Black psychology. In R. L. Jones (Ed.), Black psychology (3rd ed., pp.47-63). Berkeley, CA: Cobb & Henry.

Perreault, G. (1995). Searching for second wave pedagogy: Student perceptions of class-room practice. Education, 115, 623-628.

Shade, B. J. (1989a). Culture and learning style within the Afro-American community. In B. J. Shade (Ed.), Culture, style, and the educative process (pp. 16-32). Springfield, IL: Charles B. Thomas.

Shade, B. J. (1989b). Teaching to an Afro-American cognitive style. In B. J. Shade (Ed.), Culture, style, and the educative process (pp.330-335). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

Shade, B. J., Kelly, C., & Oberg, M. (1997). Creating culturally responsive classrooms. Washington, D. C.: American Psychological Association.

Sirotnik, K. (1983). What you see is what you get: Consistency, persistency, and mediocrity in classrooms. Harvard Educational Review, 53, 16-31.

Slavin, R. E., Madden, N. A., & Leavey, M. (1984). Effects of cooperative learning and individualized instruction on mainstreamed students. Exceptional Children, 50, 434-443.

Smith, K., Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. (1982). Effects of cooperative and individualistic instruction on the achievement of handicapped, regular, and gifted students. Journal of Social Psychology, 116, 277-283.

Swindle, B., Walker, E., & Breaux, J. (2004). Continuing professional education is good for the one that gives and good for the one that receives. National Forum of Educational Administration and Supervision Journal, 22, 3-8.

Tatum, A. W. (2001). Nesting grounds. Principal Leadership, 2, 3-8.

Walberg, H. (1968). Teacher personality and classroom climate. Psychology in the Schools, 5, 163-169.

Walberg, H. (1979). Educational environments and effects: Evaluation, policy, and productivity. Berkeley, CA: McCutchan.

Wang, M. C., Haertel, G., & Walberg, H. J. (1993/1994). What helps students learn? Educational Leadership, 51, 74-79.

Waxman, H. C., & Huang, S. L. (1997). Classroom instruction and learning environment differences between effective and ineffective urban elementary schools for African- American students. Urban Education, 32, 7-44.

Waxman, H. C., Huang, S. L, Anderson, L, & Weinstein T. (1997). Classroom process differences in inner-city elementary schools. Journal of Educational Research, 91, 49-59.

Wilson, B. K. (2002). Classroom perceptions as they relate to behavioral outcomes and as a function of grade levels for elementary school African American students. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Howard University, Washington, DC.

Wong, N. Y. (1993). Psychosocial environments in the Hong Kong mathematics classroom. Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 12, 303-309.

Wong, N. Y. (1996). Students’ perceptions of the mathematics classroom in Hong Kong. Hiroshima Journal of Mathematics Education, 4, 89-107.

Yager, S., Johnson, R. T., Johnson, D. W., & Snider, B. (1986). The impact of group processing on achievement in cooperative learning groups. Journal of Social Psychology, 126, 389-397.

Leona M. Johnson Hampton University


LEONA M. JOHNSON is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Hampton University, Virginia.

All queries and comments about this article should be addressed to

Copyright Howard University Summer 2006

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved