How to Develop the Physical Environment to Create Adaptable Learning Spaces
One of the ever-present challenges in the education sector is adapting to the different learning styles of each student. Different factors affect the learning experience, so creating adaptable learning spaces provides an ideal learning environment.
In 2016, New Zealand’s Ministry of Education conducted a study about the design features of learning spaces and its impact on the learning experience. The study concluded that both educators and students should be encouraged to utilise the opportunities of different learning spaces.
Developing the core features of a learning space can expand these opportunities. This article highlights the link between the physical features of a learning space with a student’s learning experience.
Studies that discuss the effect of lighting on student performance are often focused on controlling lighting levels. Studies tend to agree that natural lighting is preferable because of higher levels of achievement in class. The limited illumination due to overcast weather, shorter days or not enough windows was found to be the downside of natural lighting. With artificial lighting, warm white lights were favoured over fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent strips had links to a reduction of a student’s focus and increased hyperactivity.
Strategically installing windows and skylights as a source of natural light has a positive effect on the learning experience of students. It is also an economic and environmentally sound solution as it reduces energy consumption.
Heating and Ventilation
Studies on heating appear to be similar to lighting, with a focus on the control of temperature levels. The negative effects caused by hot temperatures and stuffiness can lead to drowsiness and drops in the attention span of students.
The debate is ongoing about the optimal temperature as it varies depending on the type of activity being performed and individual preferences. For the best results, the classroom temperature can be adjusted based on feedback from the students and staff.
Focus on ambient noise and reverberation when it comes to learning space acoustics. The effects of poor acoustics can cause misinterpretation or distraction. One solution is to look at the layout of the learning area and identify the noisy areas, usually the larger open spaces. Discuss the use of sound deadening materials such as carpets, insulation and room partitions. Another option is the use of microphones for class presentations.
Furniture, fittings and equipment
A comfortable working environment is a key feature to improving the learning experience. Everything from school furniture, such as chairs, desks and storage spaces, to high tech whiteboards, computer access and charging stations contributes to a comfortable and convenient learning experience. According to the 2016 study, uncomfortable school chairs, in particular, were among the most commonly raised issue when students were asked about studying in the classroom.
For comfort, the size and shape of classroom chairs and stools should be designed, at least, to ergonomically match the average size of the year group; varying sizes of chairs would accommodate the range of sizes of students.
Since 1988, Office Line has been a trusted source of quality furniture to the educational sector in Australia. From kindergartens and secondary schools to colleges and universities, we provide everything from a set of chairs to a complete classroom fit-out.
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- Tags: learning spaces
- UBT Digital