Designing to engage active learning
Getting and keeping the attention of students is the most important/critical step in the learning process. Overall classroom design can help with this process.
Often we walk into classrooms and see the standard painted cinderblock walls, chalkboard/whiteboard and teacher’s desk in front of rows and rows of student desks. Walking into most classrooms from elementary school through college you can expect this same layout. While this often maximizes space for growing class sizes, it can put a damper on teacher/student interactions.
Classroom design can help increase these engagement opportunities. When teachers are able to move freely through the classroom and easily connect with students, the level of interaction is increased significantly. Here are a few tricks to boost student engagement.
- Remove the desks. What! Where are your students going to sit? Replace the desks with clusters of tables to encourage collaboration among students, and to improve the overall flow of the space.
- Create different learning zones for your younger students. Dividing spaces can allow students to work together on different tasks or for the teacher to work one-on-one. You can easily divide spaces with shelving units creating a dual purpose by offering organizational and storage options, colorful rugs or bean bag chairs can make for a comfortable, inviting reading area and setting up a technology area can keep any noise away from the rest of the class.
- Comfort is subjective. A classroom setting should be optimal for learning and retention. Furniture should be ergonomically designed for students to stay focused, but not put them to sleep. By providing workspaces and chairs at a proper height and scale will allow students to focus on the task at hand, not the comfort or discomfort of their desks.
- Classroom decor can be completely overwhelming or completely minimal. Striking a happy balance between the two is key. By using educational materials within your overall design concepts will serve a purpose, however you don’t want your classroom decor to be distracting to your students. The opposite end of the spectrum can have a similar effect. If there is nothing in your space to capture the attention of your student you may find students to be disconnected and disengaged. You want a space which is inviting and yet stimulates your students to be at their peak learning potential.
- Integrate technology when possible. Blackboards and chalk are so 1990. Interactive whiteboards allow students to engage directly with lecture. Offer iPads or laptops in the classrooms for students to either follow along with the teacher or work independently on other lessons. If you are designing for a college or university, be sure to add wireless boosters to the classroom. An auditorium full of students trying to access lecture notes or additional research points, may overload your connection and slow everyone down. In a world where information is literally at our fingertips, make it easy for students to access it.
If you are considering an upgrade to your current facility, be sure to check out the work we did for Wright State University-Lake Campus. And when you’re ready for a free design quote be sure to fill out our form today, it’s quick and no-hassle.