An investigation of the problems of identifying and analysing affective interaction in an open plan classroom : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masterate of Arts in Education at Massey University
The investigation was part of a wider research into an Open Plan infant complex. Of central concern to this thesis was "The Problem of defining, locating and analysing 'Affect' in the Open Plan". Six randomly selected subjects were tape recorded on six randomly selected mornings for approximately three hours each. The tapes and subsequent transcripts provided the data for the study, The affect was deemed to be located in the wider context of the general interaction of the social milieu under analysis. This wider dimension of total environmental interaction was specified according to (a) the participants (b) the task they engaged in; and 16 categories were defined. Affective behaviour was finally analysed on the basis of approving and disapproving actions of teachers. This analysis studied affect according to (a) direction of affect i.e. positive or negative, approving or disapproving and (b) method of communication of affect i.e. verbal, non-verbal, neutral or combinations of these. The methodology was not fully conceptualized at the beginning but evolved from the literature and from experimentation, as the problem developed. When an accepted methodology was formulated the trends that the analysis would probably indicate were presented as "General Tendencies". The general interaction segments were identified, timed and numbered in terms of the defined categories. The affective incidents were located as units of affect within a defined sequence of general interaction. Results confirmed previously stated beliefs that some classrooms are basically stable social environments in that there was little variation in the patterns of general interaction. The proportion of time allocated to (a) participants (b) tasks was basically the same over the six days analysed. The most prevalent behaviours located were those associated with Task Instructional, with the difference between Task Organisation, Task Experiential and Non-Task being insignificant. The role of the teacher was central in this study. More approval than disapproval was identified with minimal variation in the tapes as to the affect dispensed. The research directed attention at the importance of non-verbal cues in an analysis of the social dynamics of the classroom. Teaching, as an increasingly interactive phenomenon will need to recognize the significance of non-verbal communication and this implies a necessary emphasis that should be given to education courses to ensure a full understanding of classroom interaction.