Learning Environments Research

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 25–38 | Cite as

Perceptions of the learning environment and associations with cognitive achievement among gifted biology students

  • Ronald D. Rita
  • Catherine S. Martin-Dunlop


This study assessed the perceptions of 146 gifted and 115 non-gifted high school biology students and investigated associations between student perceptions and cognitive achievement. The What Is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC) was used to assess perceptions of actual and preferred learning environments. Data indicated that all students preferred a more favourable environment than the one that they were currently experiencing, but gifted students perceived their actual environment more positively than non-gifted students. Statistically significant associations between the actual learning environment and achievement on a standardised biology test were found for the majority of scales. Teacher Support, Investigation and Equity were all statistically significant independent predictors of student achievement, while Student Cohesiveness had a negative association with achievement. Interviews revealed that students interpreted some WIHIC items differently from how the developers had intended.


Achievement Biology classroom environment Biology teaching Gifted science students What Is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC) 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Long Beach Polytechnic High SchoolLong BeachUSA
  2. 2.Department of Science EducationCalifornia State University-Long BeachLong BeachUSA

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