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How do school learning environments differ across Australia’s rural, regional and metropolitan communities?

Sullivan, K., Perry, L.B. and McConney, A. (2014) How do school learning environments differ across Australia’s rural, regional and metropolitan communities? The Australian Educational Researcher, 41 (5). pp. 521-540.

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This study uses data from the Programme for International Student Assessment, a large and nationally representative dataset, to examine how learning environments vary across metropolitan, rural and regional schools in Australia. Research has shown that school climate and learning environments are related to student academic performance, but little is known about the degree to which they differ across school communities in Australia. We examined principals’ perceptions of teacher and student behaviour related to school climate and students’ perceptions of teacher support, classroom disciplinary climate, and the relevance of education. The findings show that regardless of where they live, most students believe that schooling is worthwhile, and report positive relationships with their teachers. Perceptions of classroom disciplinary climate vary more across school communities, however, with students reporting less positive disciplinary climate in rural communities than in very large cities. Principals’ perceptions of teacher and student behavior related to school climate varied; with urban schools having much more positive results than schools in towns and rural communities. Finally, our findings show that students’ and principals’ perceptions of their school climate and learning environments are more positive in urban communities than in rural communities, but that the least positive environments are generally found in country towns rather than remote communities. Our findings suggest that attention should be paid to improving learning environments not just in the most rural/remote communities, but also in largish regional towns of up to 50,000 residents.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Copyright: 2014 The Australian Association for Research in Education, Inc.
United Nations SDGs: Goal 4: Quality Education
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