Research Proposal (please see the box below)

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Contents 2

Introduction 3

Statement of the problem 4

Literature review 5

Classroom setting 5

The physical environment 7

Classroom climate 8

The role of teachers in classroom setting 9

Methodology 10

Research design 10

Sample size 11

Data collection methods and Instrument 11

Data analysis 12

Ethical Considerations 12

Relation to Standard 6 13

Response to Peer Feedback 15

Grocery of terms 15

References 17


Several scholars have undertaken studies on how classroom setting affects learner’s outcome in secondary school outcomes. Most of these studies have majorly focused on pre-school and elementary effects of classroom setting on student performance (Allen, 2008). The common wisdom among the teachers, parents, school administrators and other stakeholders is that the smaller the size of the class the greater the performance of students. However, this conventional study has not been fully supported universally by empirical evidence. Although some studies have supported the significance of class size on the performance of the students, others have disapproved this assertion concluding that the class size has no effect on the performance of students. The challenges that come as a result of assessing the influence of classroom setting on student performance in Chinese language study include; (1) the size of the classroom in itself is not often observed but instead substituted by the ratio of pupil to teacher ate the school, district or state level, (2) several data sets used in analyzing this question are cross-sectional and makes one to have no control over some fixed effects, and (3) the size of the class in itself may be endogenous in the outcome equation of the student (Chua, 2004). Nevertheless, most researchers examining at this issue agree that the classroom setting influence greatly at the lowest level of education

Few studies have focused on the role played by classroom setting in the student performance in secondary education (Dornyei, 2008). As it can be seen, educational environment is quite different from the classroom and learning environment of the lower primary school setting. As a result, there is an existence of conventional wisdom of the importance of classroom in post primary education

Class size is one of the greatest factors to be considered in relation to student performance in secondary school. Most scholars agree that student’s achievement in languages reduces as the class size increases. The classroom setting for instance the size of the class and its effect on cognitive learning on the students have been a subject of debate for several years, where this has also been inclusive. According to (Walberg, 2002), class size is an educational tool that is used to describe the number of students in a class in a particular school. An average number of students in a class are 40 which are efficient and effective.

Statement of the problem

Several scholars have researched on the students’ motivation language learning and most of these research studies majorly focused on learners. Majority of them looked into factors that affect learners’ motivation in language learning. For instance, learners characteristic such as attitude, characteristics of the learners such as attitude, intelligence, language anxiety, self-confidence, field-independence, and other personal variables, individual differences, background of the learners, including home and gender language, academic grade and language examination grades. Research has also shown that classroom setting enhances students’ motivation in language learning (Chua, 2006). According to the review done by (Kyriacou, 2001), it can also be seen that students’ motivation towards learning Chinese language for secondary school students had not been done; therefore, the main objective of this study is to examine
how classroom settings affect the secondary student learning outcomes of the Chinese language with the main goal of ascertaining whether there is any link between classroom learning environment and the ability of the students to learn Chinese language.

There are various reasons of going to school, for example, being educated is associated with higher economic mobility and earnings, enhanced healthcare, reduced mortality rates and increased participation in leadership process (Fraser B. , 2004). In an effort to improve education globally, several factors have been considered as being responsible for the deterioration in the quality of education where it is established and perceived. Some of these factors include classroom environment such as classroom size. Classroom size congestion and utilization rate are some of the common features of secondary schools around the globe. They negatively affect both teacher and student performance especially secondary student learning outcomes of the Chinese language study. In actual sense, poor academic achievement influences school reputation since academic success is linked with the quality of the school. In relation to the points mentioned above, this study focuses on how classroom settings affect the secondary student learning outcomes of the Chinese language (Chua, 2006).

In order to achieve the objective of this research, the following questions have been formulated.

What is the relationship between classroom environment and students’ motivation to learn Chinese language?

Is there any difference between in the language performance in schools having small classroom size and those having large classroom size?

Literature review

Classroom setting

Classroom setting comprises of various educational concepts such as physical setting, the psychological environment created as a result of social contexts, and various instructional mechanisms relating to teacher behaviors and characteristics (Anderson, 2010). The study classroom setting has been spread almost in all sub specialization of educational psychology. Scholars have been most interested in the link between environment constructs and manifold results, including, motivation, learning, social relationships, engagement and group dynamics. Early scholars found that behavior is a product of an individual’s personal characteristics and the surrounding environment (Moos, 2009).

When it comes to educational setting, the work of Bronfenbrenner on the context of ecology found its way into educational research for the purposes of studying classroom environment. According to Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System Theory, (Bronfenbrenner, 2007), there is an existence of layered environmental systems of microsoms whereby human development takes place emphasizes the need of teachers, family, schools and the entire socio-cultural environment during the process of development. This research has evolved for a period time from looking at physical environmental features to more intricate models of psychological relationships amongst students in the classroom and also between students and teachers.

From mid 1990s, most of the research done majorly focus on one or more of these aspects and associated classroom setting with various positive and negative student outcomes. Together with various outcomes investigated in relation to class environment, this part of the research has been of great interest especially to methodologists since data structure has posed some dilemma in unit analysis; i.e. in terms of observing classroom variables combined with the student performance, researchers had to determine whether the data was to be investigated either at the student level or at the class level (Chua, 2004). Studies have been able to include data collected both at the student level and classroom level because of the statistical methodologies. Some methodologies comprising of observations, surveys and interviews have been used to capture the classroom aspects of the students, teacher and observer perspective (Fraser B. J., 2006).

The physical environment

In most cases past studies majorly focused on the classroom environment, unlike the contemporary studies which have studied much on the physical environment and their effect on the behavioral and academic performance on learners. The present studies on the physical environment have examined aspects such as class size, class composition, and classroom management (Anderson, 2010).

Studies on class composition have examined classroom grouping methods such as single-sex classrooms, ability grouping of students and cooperative learning groups. Research has shown that a classroom with cooperating groups tend to have students with more positive perceptions towards grading, have strong class cohesion and depict higher sense of social support (Walberg, 2002). From the research, it has also been found that female students prefer working together with other students during their studies and problem solving, and also prefer having support from their teachers as compared to their male counterparts. Primary school learning environment majorly uses collaborative strategies and have more teacher involvement as compared to secondary school environment. There has been controversy in regard to single-sex classroom when it comes to academic performance. Some studies have shown that girls perform better in math and sciences when separated from the male student; while other studies find no differences when it comes to academic performance in both genders when in either mixed-sex or single-sex classrooms

Studies relating to class size have looked at how the size of a class can influence the behaviors of both the students and the teachers. Generally, it has been found out that smaller classes are related with students with less stress and are more reliable in finishing up their tasks with less behavior problems as compared to larger classes. Though teachers use same strategies when teaching both smaller and large classes, it is evident that most of the time is spent on administrative tasks in large classes, thus leaving limited time for instruction. Other studies have also shown that the differences in Chinese language learning among students as a result of class size are as a result of differences in the behaviors of the students (Fraser B. J., 2006).

Too many students in class, overcrowded facilities and inadequate assistance from the teachers are three main issues seen as creating potential problems as a result of increased stress level among the students and also increased teacher-related issues of behavioral problems. The increased behavior related and stress level problems experienced in larger classrooms are mostly followed by poor academic achievement.

The ratio of teacher-to-child has been of great interest to most of the researchers since the number of behavioral related problems increases in proportion to the class size. Several researchers have observed that classes that have more than 30 students tend to have big number of students who are off task with few students engaging with their students than children in in a class of 20 or less (Lowe, 2000). Although there may be a social cost for students within a smaller class, other scholars found that classes with smaller number of students also have high frequencies students who engage in exclusionary and asocial behavior. Whether a student engages in distractive or on-task behavior can be also influenced by well managed classroom instructions and reliability of teacher administration.

Classroom climate

School climate or Educational climate has an effect on how teachers interact with their students and also with the administrators. This is differs from classroom climate, which majorly identifies the relationship amongst students, their teachers and how this leads to learning

There are various available tools that are used to determine the classroom climate which are also used as a comprehensive plan to improve the school. In addition, even sophisticated tools of measurement also rely on perception and opinion. Opinions are mostly generated from the statistics and information relating to performances of both the students and the teachers, which perception is based on the continuous behaviors within the classroom and the entire school

In order to determine the classroom climate, it is paramount use information collected from both opinion and perception so as to come up with a comprehensive picture of the success of students and also to create a plan on how to improve the school

Opinion is created by assessing student grades earned, attendance, test score and family. Perception can be formed by continuous observation and by using paper and pencil tools that are used to evaluate the classroom climate basing on classroom organization, attitude towards the achievement of the student, school attitude, attitude towards the peer, and the level of democracy within the classroom, variety of learning experience, recognition of diversity, teacher autonomy, student competitiveness, the reliability of rule infringements and their outcome (Moos, 2009).

The role of teachers in classroom setting

One of the major focuses in examining the classroom environment and setting has been the behavior depicted by the teachers and their impact on the development of culture of a school and how it affects the classroom environment. Some scholars suggest that as a result of complexity of creating an effective classroom setting, it goes beyond the extent of development of fresh teacher graduates. Other researchers have recommended that development of new teachers should comprise of such programs as continuous mentoring and partnerships that decreases isolation and create meaningful and productive relationships with others within the school fraternity (Tipek, 2003).

According to various studies that have been carried on physical and psychological environment, some suggestions have been offered in the literature, for instance plans for classroom management and recommendations on how to build better relationships with the students. Rules and procedures should be introduced early and the consequences should be applied equally among the students throughout the year. It has been shown that fairness and routine have some positive effect on the academic performance among the secondary school students. Research has also shown that teachers who are effective in running their routines in their respective classrooms are more likely to be respected by their students, and students also have this notion that these teachers also have higher expectations of teach (Atkinson, 2007). Therefore, teachers are encouraged to focus much on the learning tasks rater that the results or grade provided after the end of every task, although this may become hard if much emphasis is put on accountability testing

Though various classroom setting studies are only limited to classrooms, some studies have done on the effect of school culture on the classroom setting. Findings have shown that schools that have authoritative culture such as clear direction and proper delegation of authority tend to be perceived by teachers and students as being successful. On the contrary, schools with poor leadership and micro-conflicts are perceived as undermining educational success


Research design

According to Kyriacou (2001) , the purpose of descriptive design is to study the relationships that exist, practices that prevail, beliefs and attitudes held, the processes that are going on and the effects felt or trends that are developing. For the purposes of this study, the researcher will adopt a descriptive survey research design so as to determine how classroom settings will affect the secondary student learning outcomes of the Chinese language study

The design is seen as relevant since the researcher will collect, analyze and report information as it exists in the field without manipulation of variables. It will involve the use of questionnaires to a sample teachers and focus group discussions with the students to collect information about their opinions pertaining to issues that affects the secondary student learning outcomes of the Chinese language study

Another data collection approach will be a survey given to all students participating at the end of each term; this will help to identify their experiences in relation to the class environment. The survey will be a mixture of scale, multiple choice and optional short answer questions. This allows extreme views as well as mutual and less personal answers upset over negative feedback.

Sample size

The sample size to be used in this research will comprise of 1460 secondary school students from above average academic ability classes learning the Chinese language. The sample will randomly be selected from 20 schools teaching Chinese language from the government schools. This could be most suitable to represent the population of the study

Data collection methods and Instrument

This research will use two data analysis instruments to measure both the student and the teacher’s perception towards classroom learning environment on learning of Chines Language. These instruments include Chines Language Motivation Scale and Chinese Language Classroom Environment Inventory. These instruments are considered appropriate since every item will be written in both English and Chinese (Patrick, 2007). Although the study focuses on Chines language learning environment, the researcher finds it effective since students could also refer to English in case they will encounter any challenge in understanding some meanings of Chinese items

Chinese Language Classroom Environment Inventory will comprise of six 8 item scale that will examine six different of the learning environments. This will include teacher support, student cohesiveness, cooperation, involvement, task orientation and equity.

Data analysis

Two methods will be used during the data analysis

  1. Correlational analysis of relationship between the motivation of students to learn Chinese language and personal environment scale

  2. Multiple regression analysis of the relationship between the motivation of students to learn Chinese language and the combination of the entire six environment scale

In the first instance, correlation analysis will be done so as to examine the relationship between the classroom learning environment of chines language and the students’ motivation to learn the language. Multiple correlational analyses will also be carried out in this investigation so as to reduce the possible type 1 error

Simple correlational and multiple regression analysis will both be done using every student’s score during the first unit of analysis. The process will then be repeated by using the mean of the class so as to allow comparisons to be done between two different sets of results to be made.

Ethical Considerations

Before carrying gout any research in ACT and Australia, it is very important to put into consideration some ethical implications. This is mainly important when working with schools that have children and adolescents as well as in an ACT school. According to the Education and Training Directorate (2015) any research in an ACT public school must be conducted in accordance with the following:

  • Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007)

  • National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007)

  • Guidelines under section 95 of the Privacy Act 1988 (2000)

  • Guidelines approved under section 95A of the Privacy Act 1988 (2001)

There are strict rules prescribed by the Education and Training Directorate (2015) that ensure the complete safety of all those involved. The obtaining of parental consent for those under the age of 18 is crucial (In accordance to the standards set out on the human research ethics portal available at, 2015). The proposal must be approved by the principal of the school and the training Directorate. This ensures the research is appropriate for the age group and will protect the privacy of all who participate.

Relation to Standard 6

The Australian Professional Standard for Teachers: Standard 6, Engage in professional learning

According to the rules of
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, (2015), every first year teachers is expect to complete a graduate level of the 4 sub-standards. These would be implemented with this study in the following ways:

  1. Identify and plan professional learning needs

In my own learning, I have realized so far that an enhancement of student rapport as well as student enjoyment and pride during lessons I have taught could all use some improvement. Although at some point it is difficult to create student rapport within a very short period of time, I believe it is imperative for a teacher to identify some of the factors that affect learning of Chinese language especially within the classroom environment. I believe that a classroom with cooperating groups tend to have students with more positive perceptions towards grading, have strong class cohesion and depict higher sense of social support. I believe this study would help to identify if classroom setting affects the secondary student learning outcomes of the Chinese language study

  1. Engage in professional learning and improve practice

This researcher understands appropriate and relevant sources by researching and including literature reviews.

  1. Engage with colleagues and improve practice

This regarded as the recommendation and approval from fellow colleagues for classroom factors such as class size, number of groups and classroom climate that affect learning of Chinese language. I have also discussed with friends, asking advice and opinion. This is to be discussed later in the Response to Peer Feedback.

  1. Apply professional learning and improve student learning.

After carrying out the research, the results could be of great help in identifying how classroom settings affect the secondary student learning outcomes of the Chinese language study. If this research concludes that classroom environment really affects the learning of Chinese language, then teachers and school administrators have to come up with ways that enhances positive learning environment.

Response to Peer Feedback

In my entire semester, I have had an opportunity of sharing with my friends concerning my research with great results. They have been very helpful to me since they have challenged me to look at my proposal from a broader perspective. I also sought assistance from my peers away who are not part of my class most of them being students who graduated before me. I had to allow them go through my proposal and give me their feed in relation to typos, grammatical errors and referencing styles. From them I have learned that having someone else look over your work is an extremely beneficial part of research and any written piece. I have learned that it will benefit me to talk to my classmates in the future in a similar way, asking for guidance, even if I disagree it is still good to hear how it could possibly be taken.

I had a chance of polishing up some small errors in my research proposal. I have also learned that it is good to appreciate the efforts, strengths and weaknesses of everybody since the person whom you didn’t expect to offer any assistance may be the one to assist you the most. In this case, I really appreciate my friend who went through my proposal and corrected what I had not seen as errors.

Grocery of terms

Class size- number of pupils in a class

Influence- refers to the effect that the classroom setting have on the language learning process.

Classroom setting— comprises of various educational concepts such as physical setting, the psychological environment created as a result of social contexts, and various instructional mechanisms relating to teacher behaviors and characteristics

The physical environment- comprises of aspects such as class size, class composition, and classroom management


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Anderson, G. J. (2010). Effects of classroom social climate on individual learning. American Educational Research Journal, , 135-152.

Atkinson, G. B. (2007). The Economics of Education. London.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (2007). Toward ecology of human development. American Psychologist, 513–531.

Chua, S. L. (2004). An investigation of the nature of Chinese language classroom learning environments in Singapore secondary schools. Doctoral dissertation, National Institute of Education.

Dornyei, Z. &. (2008). Ten commandments for motivation language learners. Language Teaching Research, 203-229.

Fraser, B. (2004). Research on classroom and school climate. NY: Macmillan.

Fraser, B. J. (2006). Classroom Environment. London: Croom Helm.

hua, S. L. (2006). Validation of the ‘Chinese language lassroom learning environment inventory’ language classrooms. . Issues in Educational Research, 139-151.

Kyriacou, C. (2001). Essential teaching skills. Nelson Thornes. .

Lowe, J. M. (2000). The Interface Between Education facilities and Learning Climate. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. TX: A&M University.

Moos, R. (2009). Evaluating educational environments: procedures, measures, findings and policy implications. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Patrick, H. R. (2007). Early adolescents’ perceptions of the classroom social environment, motivational beliefs, and engagement . Journal of Educational Psychology, 83–98.

Tipek, D. (2003). Motivation to learn: From theory to practice. Allyn and bacon.

Walberg, H. J. (2002). Social environment and individual learning: a test of the Bloom model. Journal of Educational Psychology, , 69-73.