By Teachers, For Teachers
The way that you structure your classroom design can have an impact on not only the way that you teach, but the way that your students learn. In fact, researchers at the University of Salford Manchester have found that the way that you structure your classroom design can actually boost learning in students. According to the study, the physical characteristics of your classroom, such as the light, desk positioning, air quality, etc., can all have an impact on your students’ learning. If designed correctly, your learning space can actually boost students’ learning as much as 25 percent.
The way you arrange your classroom is important for many reasons. For starters, the way the seating is arranged can actually affect the way your students learn. For example, if you have a traditional classroom setup, where all of the desks are in rows facing forward, then students will not have the ability to participate in group work. However, if you place their desks in groups or use tables, you can change the structure of the classroom. This small change allows students to be able to collaborate and participate with one another quite easily. It’s also another great way for students see the board and communicate with their peers.
Second, the environmental features of your classroom (the lighting, temperature, and air quality) can also have an impact on your students. Research shows that students perform better when they the environmental factors are to their preference. For example, if a child is always hot, then they can sit by the window, and for those who are always cold, encourage these students to bring in an extra jacket. Also, it’s wise to try and provide spaces in the classroom that are both well-lit and dim. This will help to ensure that you are reaching all students’ preferences.
There are many ways that you can create an effective learning space. Many teachers have played around with their classroom design to see what works for them and what does not. One popular design is to take the traditional classroom setting (rows and desks) and place two desks together in the classic row format. The advantage to this formation is that students will be able to collaborate with one another easier. The disadvantage is that it is too similar to the traditional seating method.
Another popular learning space deisgn is to create a half circle where students’ desks are butted up against one another in the shape of a “U” facing the front of the classroom. Sometimes teachers like to create a complete circle as well. The advantage to this classroom design is that it creates a sense of community where all students can actively participate. It also allows the teacher the ability to see all students at once because there is no designated teacher space. The disadvantage to this design is that shy students may feel uncomfortable being out in the open. Also, when using the whole circle arrangement, it’s hard for all students to see any visuals or the board at the same time.
The newest and most popular learning space arrangement is called flexible seating. Instead of the traditional classic setting where there are rows of desks, there are standup desks or tables. Instead of the classic chairs, students sit on stability balls with feet, wobble seats, crates, mats, or beanbag chairs. The advantage to this classroom arrangement is that students choose the seating that they think can help them learn best. The ability to bounce in your seat or move about in your chair while working can also help the oxygen flow to your brain, which is a great way to increase student motivation. The disadvantage to this learning space arrangement is that teachers have to have enough flexible seating for the students to choose which seat works best for them. Teachers also have to learn how to give up some control and deal with constant moving children. This type of classroom is much different from the traditional classroom setting where teachers are used to telling their students to “Sit still.” It may take some getting used to on the teacher’s part.
A well-designed classroom is an essential part of creating an effective learning space. Ultimately, the classroom design that you choose needs to work for you as well as your students. There is not a “One-size-fits-all” when it comes to the way you arrange your classroom. What works for you may not work for someone else. However, when creating an essential effective learning space, the lighting, temperature, and the amount of comfortable seating you have available can make a difference on the way your students learn.
How do you structure your learning space? Do you believe that lighting and air quality preferences make a difference in students’ learning? Please share your classroom design thoughts below, we’d love to hear what you have to say about this topic.