Learning Environments Research

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 259–280 | Cite as

Psychosocial learning environments and the mediating effect of personal meaning upon Satisfaction with Education

  • Prapanna Randall Smith
Original Paper


This article reports the quantitative phase of a mixed-methods study that was conducted to investigate the relationships between psychosocial learning environments and student satisfaction with their education as mediated by Agentic Personal Meaning. The interdisciplinary approach of the study integrated the fields of learning environment research, existential meaning research and positive psychology research. A postulated model was tested using structural equation modeling to determine goodness-to-fit with data obtained from secondary and college students in two progressive private schools in India. Findings indicate that the learning environment variables of Teacher Support, Task Orientation, Cooperation, Student Cohesiveness, Involvement and Equity were significantly correlated with student Satisfaction with Education and with Agentic Personal Meaning. Findings also provide evidence that existential meaning and life purpose mediates the relationships between the psychosocial learning environment variables of Teacher Support, Task Orientation and Cooperation and the outcome variable of student Satisfaction with Education.


Agentic Personal Meaning Existential meaning Life purpose Psychosocial learning environments Satisfaction with Education Structural equation modeling What Is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC) 


  1. Alfassa, M. (1950). Mother’s collected works, vol. 12: On education. Pondicherry: Sri Aourobindo Ashram Press (1984).Google Scholar
  2. Allen, D., & Fraser, B. J. (2007). Parent and student perceptions of classroom learning environment and its association with student outcomes. Learning Environments Research, 10, 67–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baron, M. B., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychology research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173–1182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Battista, J., & Almond, R. (1973). The development of meaning in life. Psychiatry, 36, 409–427.Google Scholar
  5. Bauer-Wo, S., & Farran, C. J. (2005). Meaning in life and psycho-spiritual functioning. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 23, 172–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Benson, P. L. (1997). All kids are our kids: What communities must do to raise caring and responsible children and adolescents. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  7. Benson, P. L. (2002). Adolescent development in social and community context: A program of research. New Directions in Youth Development, 95, 123–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Benson, P., Scales, P. C., Hamilton, S. F., & Sesma, A. (2006). Positive youth development: Theory, research, and applications. In W. Damon & R. M. Learner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology, Vol. 1: Theoretical models of human development (6th ed., pp. 894–941). Wiley: New York.Google Scholar
  9. Brown, M. R., Higgins, K., & Paulsen, K. (2003). Adolescent alienation: What is it and what can educators do about it? Intervention in School and Clinic, 39(1), 3–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Byrne, B. (2006). Structural equation modeling with EQS (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  11. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  12. Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Csikszentmihalyi, I. S. (Eds.). (2006). A life worth living: Contributions to positive psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Damon, W. (1995). Greater expectations: Overcoming the culture of indulgence in our homes and schools. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  14. Damon, W. (2008). The path to purpose: Helping our children find their calling in life. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  15. Damon, W., Menon, J., & Bronk, K. C. (2003). The development of purpose during adolescence. Applied Developmental Science, 7(3), 119–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Debats, D. L. (2000). An inquiry into existential meaning: Theoretical, clinical, and phenomenological perspectives. In G. T. Reker & K. Chamberlain (Eds.), Existential meaning: Optimizing human development across the life span (pp. 93–106). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. DeVogler, K. L., & Ebersole, P. (1983). Young adolescents’ meaning in life. Psychological Reports, 52, 427–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffen, S. (1985). The Satisfaction With Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(1), 71–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dorman, J. P. (2001). Associations between classroom environment and academic efficacy. Learning Environments Research, 4, 243–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dorman, J. P. (2003). Cross-national validation of the What Is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC) questionnaire using confirmatory factor analysis. Learning Environments Research, 6, 231–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dorman, J. P., Adams, J. E., & Ferguson, J. M. (2003). A cross-national investigation of students’ perceptions of mathematics classroom environment and academic efficacy in secondary schools. International Journal for Mathematics Teaching and Learning. Retrieved May 18, 2007, from
  22. Dorman, J. P., Fisher, D. L., & Waldrip, B. G. (2006). Classroom environment, students’ perceptions of assessment, academic efficacy and attitude to science: A LISREL analysis. In D. Fisher & M. S. Khine (Eds.), Contemporary approaches to research on learning environments: Worldviews (pp. 1–28). Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Company.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ebersole, P., & DeVogler-Ebersole, K. (1985). Meaning in life of the eminent and the average. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 1(1), 83–84.Google Scholar
  24. Frankl, V. E. (1962). Man’s search for meaning. New York: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  25. Fraser, B. (1998). Classroom environment instruments: Development, validity and applications. Learning Environments Research, 1, 7–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fraser, B. (1999). Using learning environment assessment to improve classroom and school climates. In J. Freiberg (Ed.), School climate: Measuring, improving, and sustaining healthy learning environments (pp. 65–83). Oxon: Routledge Falmer.Google Scholar
  27. Fraser, B. J. (2012). Classroom learning environments: Retrospect, context and prospect. In B. J. Fraser, K. G. Tobin, & C. J. McRobbie (Eds.), Second international handbook of science education (pp. 1191–1239). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fraser, B., & Fisher, D. L. (1982). Predicting students’ outcomes from their perceptions of classroom psychosocial environment. American Educational Research Journal, 19, 498–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Fry, P. S. (1998). The development of personal meaning and wisdom in adolescence: A reexamination of moderating and consolidating factors and influences. In P. T. Wong & P. S. Fry (Eds.), The human question for meaning: A handbook of psychological research and clinical applications (pp. 91–110). London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  30. Hamilton, S. F., Hamilton, M. A., & Pittman, K. (2004). Principles for youth development. In S. F. Hamilton & H. M. A. Hamilton (Eds.), The youth development handbook: coming of age in American communities (pp. 3–22). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Henderson, D., Fisher, D. L., & Fraser, B. (2000). Interpersonal behavior, laboratory learning environments, and student outcomes in senior biology classes. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37, 26–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Huebner, E. S., Suldo, S. H., Smith, L. C., & McKnight, C. G. (2004). Life satisfaction in children and youth: Empirical foundations and implications for school psychologists. Psychology in the Schools, 41(1), 81–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Johnson, B., & Stevens, J. (2006). Student achievement and elementary teachers’ perceptions of school climate. Learning Environments Research, 9, 111–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kenny, D. A. (1987). Statistics for the social and behavioral sciences. Toronto, Canada: Little, Brown.Google Scholar
  35. Kim, J., & Lorsbach, A. (2005). Writing self-efficacy in young children: Issues for the early grades environment. Learning Environments Research, 8, 157–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Larson, R. W. (2000). Toward a psychology of positive youth development. American Psychologist, 55, 170–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lorsbach, A. W., & Jinks, J. (1999). Self-efficacy theory and learning environment research. Learning Environments Research, 2, 157–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lurie, Y. (2000). Tracking the meaning of life: A philosophical journey. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press.Google Scholar
  39. Maddi, S. R. (1968). Personality theories: A comparative analysis. Chicago, IL: Dorsey Press.Google Scholar
  40. Maddi, S. R. (1970). The search for meaning. In W. J. Arnold & M. M. Page (Eds.), Nebraska symposium on motivation 1970 (pp. 137–186). Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  41. Maslow, A. H. (1966). Comments on Dr. Frankl’s paper. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 6, 107–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Maslow, A. H. (1967). A theory of metamotivation: The biological rooting of the value-life. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 7, 93–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mau, R. (1989). Student alienation in a school context. Research in Education, 42(11), 17–28.Google Scholar
  44. Moos, R. H. (1979). Evaluating educational environments: Procedures, measures, findings and policy implications. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  45. Moos, R. H. (2003). Social contexts: Transcending their power and their fragility. American Journal of Community Psychology, 31(1/2), 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Moos, R. H., & Trickett, E. J. (1974). Classroom environment scale manual. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  47. Nix, R. K., Fraser, B., & Ledbetter, C. E. (2005). Evaluating an integrated science learning environment using the Constructivist Learning Environment Survey. Learning Environments Research, 8, 109–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pallant, J. (2005). SPSS survival manual (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  49. Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (1985). The Satisfaction With Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (1993). Review of the Satisfaction With Life Scale. Psychological Assessment, 5, 164–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (2008). The Satisfaction With Life Scales and the emerging construct of life satisfaction. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 3, 137–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pink, D. (2005). A whole new mind. New York: Riverhead.Google Scholar
  53. Reker, G. T. (1991, July). Contextual and thematic analyses of sources of provisional meaning: A life-span perspective. Invited symposium presented at the International Society of the Study of Behavioral Development (ISSBD), Minneapolis, MN.Google Scholar
  54. Reker, G. T. (1992). Manual of the life attitude profile–Revised. Peterborough, ON: Student Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  55. Reker, G. T. (1994). Logotheory and logotherapy: Challenges, opportunities, and some empirical findings. International Forum for Logotherapy, 17(1), 47–55.Google Scholar
  56. Reker, G. T. (1997). Personal meaning, optimism, and choice: Existential predictors of depression in community and institutional elderly. The Gerontologist, 37, 709–716.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Reker, G. T. (2000). Theoretical perspective, dimensions, and measurement of existential meaning. In G. T. Reker & K. Chamberlain (Eds.), Existential meaning: Optimizing human development across the life span (pp. 39–55). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Reker, G. T., & Chamberlain, K. (Eds.). (2000). Existential meaning: Optimizing human development across the life span. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  59. Reker, G. T., Peacock, E. J., & Wong, P. T. P. (1987). Meaning and purpose in life and well-being: A life-span perspective. Journal of Gerontology, 42, 44–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Reker, G. T., & Wong, P. T. P. (1988). Aging as an individual process: Toward a theory of personal meaning. In J. E. Birren & V. L. Bengston (Eds.), Emergent theories of aging (pp. 214–246). New York: Springer Publishing.Google Scholar
  61. Reker, G. T., & Wong, P. T. P. (2012). Personal meaning in life and psychosocial adaptation in the later years. In P. T. P. Wong & Fry, P. S. (Eds.), The human quest for meaning (2nd ed., pp. 433–456). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  62. Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Positive psychology, positive prevention, and positive therapy. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 3–9). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Seligman, M. E. P., & Czikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Shavelson, R. J., & Seidel, T. (2006). Approaches in measuring learning environment. Learning Environments Research, 9, 195–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Suldo, S. M., Shaffer, E. J., & Riley, K. N. (2004). A social-cognitive model of academic predictors of adolescents’ life satisfaction. School Psychology Quarterly, 23, 56–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2001). Using multivariate statistics (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  67. Taylor, P., Dawson, V., & Fraser, B. J. (April, 1995). A constructivist perspective on monitoring classroom learning environments under transformation. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA.Google Scholar
  68. Taylor, P., Fraser, B. J., & Fisher, D. (1997). Monitoring constructivist classroom learning environments. International Journal of Educational Research, 27, 293–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Trickett, E. J. (1978). Toward a social-ecological conception of adolescent socialization: Normative data on contrasting types of public school classrooms. Child Development, 49, 408–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Walberg, H. J., & Anderson, G. J. (1968). Classroom climate and individual learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 59, 414–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Yalom, I. D. (1980). Existential psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  72. Zika, S., & Chamberlain, K. (1992). On the relation between meaning in life and psychological well-being. British Journal of Psychology, 83, 133–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.AltavilleUSA

Personalised recommendations