Date of Award



© 2021 Jessica Ann Clark

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Ella Benson

Second Advisor

LaTonya Bolden

Third Advisor

Nancy Smith


The physical environment of a classroom can serve to meet the unique needs of students, but the focus on the specific tangible elements of the classroom is limited. There are minimal guidelines that inform teachers as to how to use these elements of the environment in teaching practices. The decision-making process for these situations is often left to inexperienced teachers and is not fully utilized as a resource within the classroom. The purpose of this qualitative research is to examine the environmental factors that contribute to a positive learning environment for public school students who exhibit challenging behavior. Based on the experiences of professional staff, this study will specifically identify and determine some of the beneficial antecedent stimuli, or the physical aspects, of a learning space for those students whose behavior precludes them from accessing their typically developing peers. The remote interview procedure for this study included fifteen educators who had worked in a public-school day treatment program within a public school district in Southern Maine. An interview was the tool used to gain qualitative data for this study. In general, the participants shared that access to space, having specifically trained adults, and pro-actively managing the environment were all positive contributors to perceived success. This study shares specific perceptions and interpretations of staff members working with a unique population of students and offers future research ideas in the areas of antecedent manipulation towards a more successful public-school day treatment environment.


Ed.D. Disssertation