Summer 2019



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Vivian Johnson

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Peter Swanson

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Mike Bennett


This capstone thesis used a qualitative research approach to answer the question of how middle school students in a classical education setting described their affective and cognitive environments. Students in a classical school have different standards and expectations, as the school approach and philosophy are somewhat different than other public schools. The purpose of this thesis question was to see how students felt both emotionally and academically about being in this classical environment. The literature review that accompanied this thesis touched on each aspect of the question individually. Studies on student affective and cognitive environments displayed the role that student relationships have on their environments. Background research was also done on both charter schools and classical education to give a baseline definition of what the school environment is like. All students in the eighth grade (75 students) were given a survey that asked them four questions, two on their affective environment and two on their cognitive environments. Each question included a Likert scale and an open-ended question that had students delve deeper into their responses on the scale. The most telling information gathered from the eighth-grade surveys was that students greatly desire for their voices to be heard by staff, teachers, and peers. Something that could have been done differently for the survey was to address the bias present, as the author’s English class was rated higher than others with students knowing the author would look at their responses. Future research could be done by surveying not only the eighth-grade class but all of the grades that the school holds.

Research Methodology

Survey (attitude scale, opinion, questionnaire)


Charter Schools, Community Building, Reflective Practice, Teachers/ Teaching








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