D. Denglerová

Masaryk University (CZECH REPUBLIC)
Newly created diagnostic tool appointed to school self-evaluation is presented in this paper. The tool exposes, how pupils in elementary school (age ranged between 6 and 11) feel in their school environment. The tool answers questions: Which aspects of school attendance have children evaluate as positive and which as negative? Which aspects of formal and informal education make children enjoy the school?

Presented tool is based on principle of test of semantic choice and therefore on the belief it is possible to uncover the subjective meaning of a given stimulus for a particular individual or group. The tool contains 18 terms relevant to a school environment (i.e. my teacher, grades, break, our classroom, my classmates, boys, girls, lunch at school canteen, WC etc.). The tool is distributed to the children in a form of a simple computer game. Distribution via computer ensures children’s interest and their motivation to work with the tool and at the same time it eliminates the necessity of being able to read and write. Each term is represented on the screen by a typical picture and at the same time it is written there in capital letters and accompanied with voice track.

The tool was evaluated on almost 1200 pupils of 20 different schools across Czech Republic. Results show typical feeling of a school environment, characteristic for different groups of children (differentiated mainly by age and gender). Children at an elementary school evaluates positively mainly social contacts with other people, regardless whether adults or peers. The most positively evaluated term is for girls “my teacher”, while for boys it is “my classmates”. Significant differences are there as well for terms “boys” and “girls”. Gals see as much more positive the term “girls”, while lads prefer “boys”, which is in accordance with the developmental theories, that describe younger school age as the period of identifying with one’s own gender and considering children of own gender to be better and smarter. There are significant differences in evaluation of the term “pupils of a higher grade”. The higher the grade children attend, the more negatively they evaluate this term. At the beginning of the school attendance children have no bad experience with older pupils, which changes during the years at the school.

The main meaning of the tool is however the possibility of using it repeatedly by the schools themselves if they need to (the tool was distributed to all elementary school in Czech Republic) and comparing their own results with standardized profiles. Directors and teachers can thus discover different problems regarding social and physical environment at the school in their beginning. The tool can be technically used for each child individually; however for school self-evaluation it is more important to focus on potential problems, which are pointed out as uncomfortable by majority of the children.