Spatial influences on socialization in preschool classrooms

Alaswad, Zina
Major Professor
Lori Stone
Committee Member
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Art and Design

The main purpose of this research is to understand the direct and specific effects of the physical environment of the preschool classroom on children's social interactions. The physical environment consists of several elements. However, this research focuses on understanding the direct correlation between the provision of private spaces in the preschool classroom and the level of children's social interactivity with each other. The main question of this research is "How does the provision of Intimate Spaces in the preschool classroom effect children's social interaction?". The "Intimate Space" is a spatially well defined behavior setting, within which a group of 2-3 children can interact socially. Therefore, the hypothesis of this study suggests that providing an "Intimate Space" within the preschool classroom can lead to decreased classroom interruptions and contribute to sustaining longer attention spans, which eventually improve the quality and duration of social interactions between children (Moore, 1994). Within a quasi-experiment, children 3-5 years old in a preschool classroom are observed before and after introducing a minor design intervention to collect data on how minimal changes in the physical environment can affect children's social interaction. The spatial organization and the behavioral settings of the physical environment of children are initially rated according to a modified version of a scale developed by Gary T. Moore (Moore, 1994). Children's behavior is also observed before and after the introduction of the intimate space. Behaviors are recorded through using a modified version of a behavior observation schedule developed by Gary T. Moore for early childhood environments (Moore, 1994). The small group of children observed in this study causes for less reliable results since different classrooms and groups of children may introduce other variables within the physical environment and the behaviors of children. Also, this study cannot be guaranteed to provide valid measures if performed among children with physical or intellectual disabilities since these populations are not studied within this research.