Date of Award



© 2019 Ann M. Wagner

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Suzan Nelson

Second Advisor

Corinna Crafton

Third Advisor

Linda Dunlap


This qualitative phenomenological study considered the comfort of students in the secondary physical classroom, seeking ways to meet the needs of 21st Century learners and to provide an equitable environment for all learners. A student survey was conducted on elements of the physical classroom space and interviews were conducted to further delve into student comfort in the classroom. As part of the interviews, students drew an ideal classroom space to further share their thoughts and ideas. Interviewees and respondents articulated the need for individual space in the classroom, for temperature control, and for the reduction of noise to optimize the learning environment. Interviewees sought a visually stimulating environment, and one in which technology was integrated, but not overwhelming. To that end, interviewees suggested that the physical classroom space should be flexible and offer a variety of study environments for students to both focus and relax. Interviewees indicated that this physical classroom environment would better meet their needs to collaborate and communicate with their peers, placing the teacher in an interactive, but supportive role in the classroom. A student comfort taxonomic structure was developed, formed from motivation theory, satisfaction and human comfort theory, and a taxonomic structure of comfort used in nursing. Through the researcher’s reflection and interaction with these data as an educational leader, a series of questions based on a taxonomic structure of student comfort was developed to assess students’ physical comfort, environmental comfort, sociocultural comfort, and psychospiritual comfort across a continuum of relief, ease, and transcendence. This research, and the resulting student comfort taxonomic structure and questions derived from that structure can be used by teachers, school leaders, site managers, architects, and designers to assess student comfort in the physical classroom space.


Ed.D. Dissertation

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