Universidad de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2019 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Pages: 5279-5287
ISBN: 978-84-09-14755-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2019.1270
Conference name: 12th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 11-13 November, 2019
Location: Seville, Spain
The physical classroom environment (PCE) is a relevant element for the teacher’s practice. We define PCE as the physical space of the room taking into account size, shape, luminosity, furniture, manipulative and technological didactic resources, the arrangement of furniture, resources and working space.

If on the one hand the PCE influences the type of teacher’s practice, it is also true that there are teaching practices that require changes in the PCE. An example is the PCE with traditional arrangement of the individual students' desks in front of the blackboard and the teacher's desk, both placed on a higher plane (on a platform). This PCE influences, for example, the interactions between teacher-students (vertical) and student-students (non-existent). When Portugal began to value the work of students in groups, this PCE had to undergo modifications to adapt to the new type of teaching practice.

We consider that it is the changes in the conception of teaching practices that imply changes in PCE, both because of research in Education. However, in order to achieve effective changes in teachers' practices, previous reflection on various PCE may contribute to make teachers change certain conceptions of their teaching practices.

In order to contribute to this problem, we developed a qualitative research study based on a case study.

The research question of this study is: What is the influence of reflecting on physical classroom environments in the change of conception of teaching practices of future teachers?

This question gave rise to the following two subsidiary questions:
What are the physical classroom environments indicated by future pre-school and elementary school teachers? After training about physical classroom environments, which physical classroom environment do they propose as their ideal and why?

The participants in the study were 12 students of the master’s course in “Pre-school Education and Teaching of the 1st Cycle of Basic Education” of a Portuguese public university.

The research design was based on the resolution of a two-part task, solved in pairs, in a Mathematics Didactics course. In the first part of the task, the peers drew several PCE's and explained how the teacher's practice was developed within that environment. Then with the teacher's mediation, students presented their productions, which were analysed and discussed in the large group. Next, the teacher did a brief exposition about future classrooms, using several images, and teacher and students reflected on the most recent PCEs and its connection with the teacher's practice.

The results showed that before the reflection on PCEs, the students indicated the PCEs and the teaching practices more traditional (that is, the ones they knew as students). After the formation and reflection on diverse PCEs, they were able to create a PCE different from those that were mentioned, and justifying their characteristics with the design of most avant-garde teaching practices.

This study suggests that the reflection about PCEs and its relation with teaching practices in teacher training can contribute to the change of the conception of teaching practices, which constitutes a benefit for teacher training.
Physical classroom environment, teacher training, teaching practices, conception of teaching practices.