Communicating succinct and targeted information, to a multidisciplinary audience, about the indoor environment quality inside Australian primary and middle school classrooms
AuthorSoccio, Philippa Margaret
AffiliationArchitecture, Building and Planning
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOnly available to University of Melbourne staff and students, login required
© 2014 Dr. Philippa Margaret Soccio
This research project was conducted as part of the Australian Research Council Linkage grant Future Proofing Schools. The project aim was to investigate how a multidisciplinary audience – made up of stakeholders involved in commissioning, designing, constructing, operating, maintaining and occupying school facilities – could be provided with succinct and targeted information, about the indoor environment quality (IEQ) inside primary and middle school classrooms. The setting for the research was Australian primary and middle schools. Data about IEQ was collected inside ten classrooms located in five climate zones. Classrooms are complex research settings overlaid with environmental, pedagogical, socio-cultural, curricular, motivational, and socio-economic issues (Higgins, et al., 2005). IEQ is an environmental issue concerned with the combined impact of lighting, thermal comfort, air quality and acoustics inside artificially created environments (ASHRAE, 2009). Studies reveal that students can spend 15 000 compulsory hours in the school environment during their formative years and of this, between 85% and 90% of their time indoors (Johnson, 2010; Rutter, 1979). The IEQ performance of classrooms can trigger health and learning difficulties for students (Daisy, et al., 2003; Earthman, 2004; Coalition for Healthier Schools, 2013). Young students attending primary and middle schools are particularly vulnerable, because of the dynamic state of growth their minds and bodies are undergoing, compared with adults (World Health Organisation, 2006). The project outcome was a new post occupancy evaluation (POE) tool; developed using mixed methods and an explanatory case study methodology. POE “is the process of evaluating buildings in a systematic and rigorous manner after they have been built and occupied for some time” (Preiser, 2001, p.9). Guiding the POE process with tools, can help the users document the inputs and parameters that were assessed as part of feedback loops about the issues impacting on IEQ performance (Baker, 2011). The need for the new POE tool emerged from two gaps in the knowledge. The first gap was specific to the limited body of knowledge about IEQ performance inside Australian primary and middle school classrooms. This gap was evident in the research of Blackmore, et al. (2011) and Newton, et al. (2011), who in their discussions of Australian learning environments cite the findings of international studies on IEQ (Daisy, 2003; Higgins et al., 2005; Schneider, 2002; Seppänen et al., 2004; Temple, 2007; Twenty-first Century School Fund, 2009; Wargocki & Wyon, 2006). Rutherford and Eigeland (2000, p.66) argue, “while overseas data is useful” for establishing the prevalence of different risks, “it often does not consider Australian climates and lifestyle”. The second gap was specific to how new knowledge about IEQ performance inside primary and middle school classrooms may be sourced. A review of existing POE tools, revealed that there was not an existing POE tool for objectively evaluating the IEQ performance inside primary and middle school classrooms, against the needs of students and educators for effective teaching and learning (Catalina & Iorcache, 2012; Luther, 2013). In conclusion, the new POE tool – named the EduTool:IEQ – provides a methodology for collecting and analysing data about 16 components of IEQ, chosen for their potential to impact on effective teaching and learning inside classrooms. The results of the evaluation are displayed on an info-graphic, which was developed to succinctly communicate targeted results about the probable cause of IEQ issues, back to a multidisciplinary audience. The use of the EduTool:IEQ to analyse the IEQ performance inside ten primary and middle school classrooms, provides a small sample of results that are specific to Australia. Analysis of the EduTool:IEQ results highlight that the causes (and opportunities to improve) poor IEQ inside primary and middle school classrooms are varied, but can be broadly categorised as being related to: occupant behaviour inside the building, activities on neighbouring sites; and issues with how the buildings were designed, constructed, operated and maintained.
Keywordsindoor environment quality; multidisciplinary audience; classroom; effective teaching and learning; evaluation
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