Student performance is the number one indicator of a productive learning environment. Everything that occurs in a classroom revolves around boosting the pupils’ learning achievements, from the standardized tests and lesson plans to remediation opportunities.
Another factor that affects learning outcomes is classroom design. However, this aspect is often overlooked, as many schools choose to focus on improving their curriculum and training their teachers. Plenty of classrooms still have the traditional arrangement of rows and rows of desks. This conventional classroom design is used in 75 percent of Australian and New Zealand schools.
Traditional Classroom Design
The trouble with the traditional classroom arrangement is that it doesn’t encourage active learning for the students. The row-per-row arrangement of seats isolates the pupils from each other, preventing good collaboration. The Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change (ILETC) project says that collaborative learning helps develop higher-level thinking, oral communication, and social skills and self-management among students.
Also, most conventionally designed classrooms commonly have a teacher-led teaching approach. This means that the teacher takes control of the lessons, and the students follow their pace and instructions. Although a teacher-centered approach helps maintain an orderly classroom, it doesn’t foster dynamic learning.
On the other hand, student-led instruction allows children to direct their own learning and ask questions. They can exercise higher-order thinking and become active learners instead of merely relying on the teacher’s instructions. They practice creativity by figuring their own ways to solve problems. The students also learn critical cooperative and communicative skills by working with their peers.
This kind of student-centered, collaborative can be achieved through innovative, flexible classroom design.
Flexible Classroom Design
All the elements of a classroom can affect a student’s ability to focus, especially for young learners. From the lighting and the color of the walls to the type of chairs and desks they use – the classroom climate influences a child’s response to the lessons.
An ideal classroom has calming colors, such as light green or muted blue, to create a positive learning environment for children. Natural light also helps to calm the learner’s mind, allowing them to absorb the lessons better.
Industrial, cookie-cutter desks and chairs are being replaced by modern classroom furniture pieces that allow flexible seating arrangements instead of the conventional rows. This flexibility helps educators design collaborative learning spaces dedicated to group works.
Unnecessary classroom clutter should also be cleared. Overcrowded spaces, loud and high-pitched sounds, and excessive overhead lighting result in over-stimulated rooms. Over-stimulation can make it difficult for young learners to concentrate since they are more sensitive to their surroundings.
All these important classroom elements all prove that schools should put more thought into how they design learning spaces. Educators embracing the new classroom design realize that the conventional seating arrangement and teacher-led instruction limits students’ learning. Plus, these make the teacher’s job more difficult.
More and more studies about the impact of classroom design are being published. These new information push schools to construct optimal learning environments that meet the educational needs of different kinds of learners, potentially improving their student outcomes.