Classroom layout is one of the aspects of student learning that tends to be forgotten. You’ve spent hours perfecting your lecture flow, presentation materials, and handouts, but have you ever paused and considered revamping the physical setup of the classroom itself?
As opposed to these learning materials, the impact of classroom layout to students’ learning is widely underestimated. To put it simply: poor classroom layouts breed distraction and discomfort. As a result, no matter how excellent your method of instruction, it might all just go to waste.
Like the visuals in presentations, handouts, and textbooks, the classroom should also follow good design principles for maximum positive impact. In this article, we’ll focus on how you can create the best learning environment for your students. According to a recent study, classroom design has a 25% impact on learning progress. To be more specific, this impact can be broken down into five factors, namely:
Visual stimulation is important in the classroom. Whether it’s through the display of relevant materials or a regularly-updated bulletin board, visuals augment students’ interest and attention span.
Your choice of furniture impacts how your students will feel when in school, and also how they feel about school. Ergonomic chairs and tables are helpful. Uncomfortable furniture is distracting.
Connected to color, complexity refers to providing enough visual stimuli to keep your students’ minds occupied with relevant material. Interest breeds focus. Thus, be sure to change your visuals every once in a while. Don’t let your display stagnate.
Learning today is much more dynamic. This is why flexibility in the classroom layout is important. Being able to manipulate space to suit different needs is helpful in ensuring that you get your material across. For example, a horseshoe-shaped table setting is best when your lecture involves dialogue and rigorous class discussion. The standard row-by-row setup, while conventional, isn’t always the best. For one, students in the front row don’t see their classmates and students at the back mostly see the back of other people’s heads. Obviously, this creates a barrier that makes lively discourse difficult.
We all know by now that natural light is best in the classroom. If ample natural light is just not possible, opt for high-quality electrical lights that mimic sunlight. Also, this concerns the proper placing of light sources in the classroom. Make sure to check for glare from all angles. Try replacing any reflective materials to help minimize this. Needless to say, when a student can’t see a material because of glare, it already takes away from his or her learning.
Aside from this, you may also explore other options to make your learning space more conducive to learning. For instance, one teacher found out that getting rid of the standard desk in front of the room encouraged students to reach out and ask more questions. The move also afforded the students more space and thus, more comfort. The teacher realized that the desk acted as a barrier, and as soon as it was gone, there was more participation and sense of belonging in the classroom.
So, don’t ever let conventional classroom setups hold you back. Try and think about your teaching style and the kind of environment you’d like during your teaching sessions. Work with this to figure out the best classroom layout for you.
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