The meaningful use of literacy created by problem solving classroom environments
The intent of this study was to examine the meaningful use of literacy, classroom environment, and attitude toward problem solving of elementary teachers. A total of 64 elementary, public school teachers volunteered to participate in this study. They were from three, large, suburban, north Texas school districts. Teachers in Group I (n=19) had participated in the Future Problem Solving Program for 1-2 years, those in Group II (n=21) for 3 or more years, and those in Group III (n=24) were not involved in a problem-solving program. The teachers were asked to complete three instruments and respond to one written question. These were the Use of Literacy Items, the Classroom Environment Scale (Moos & Trickett, 1974), and the Attitude Toward Problem Solving Scale. Three teachers were then randomly selected from each group for individual interviews. A multivariate analysis was executed to determine if an overall difference was present among the three groups for the total score on the three instruments. The overall multi variate test was significant (Wilk's lambda= 0.61; F = 4.62; p = o.0004). The Tukey A post hoc analysis was used
to distinguish between which groups these differences were occurring. There were no significant differences between Group I and II on either the Use of Literacy Items or the Classroom Environment Scale. The scores of Groups I and II were significantly higher than the scores of Group III on both of these instruments, indicating more student-centered classroom environments. The written responses from Groups I and II were generally longer and contained many specific examples of student activities. Those from Group III were often left blank, indicated an answer could not be thought of or was inappropriate for their students. The teachers in Groups I and II had a much broader view of problem solving including mathematical, social, scientific, and reading. The teachers from Group III primarily saw problem solving as only social or mathematical. These findings indicate a difference in how literacy was being used in elementary classrooms. Exposure to and participation in a problem-solving program did result in different classroom environments and more student-centered use of literacy.