What kind of effect did those things have on your learning and concentration?
What kind of effect would those things have on a child, who might have a hard time staying on task anyways?
Chapter 14 of Educational Psychology concentrates on creating a productive learning environment, and touches on topics like seating arrangements, colors, temperature, sounds, bulletin boards, and other things in the physical classroom environment that can have an affect on learning.
Desk Arrangements <ul><li>It is important to arrange the desks in a way that makes it easy for you, the teacher, to interact with each and every student, to be able to move easily throughout the room, to accommodate students’ personal space, to establish traffic patterns, and to encourage the type of learning that works best for your class (i.e. clusters of desks for group work). </li></ul><ul><li>The following slide shows several different seating arrangements that work for a variety of situations. </li></ul>
It is also important to minimize possible distractions. This can be done by keeping intriguing materials out of sight and reach, keeping ‘chatty friends’ separate, and arranging the desks so that you can see any student at any time from any position in the classroom. The book suggests to “arrange furniture in ways that encourage student interaction when appropriate and discourage it when counterproductive.”
The classroom climate is the overall psychological atmosphere of the classroom and will permeate classroom interactions. We want a classroom in which students feel safe and secure, where learning is a high priority, and where students are willing to take the risks and make the mistakes critical for academic success.
The following pictures showcase classrooms in which desk arrangements, color, and lighting are working together in a way that positively effects student learning.
First-grade teacher Allyson Daley is one of the super teachers and classroom interior designers featured in the Scholastic professional book entitled Classroom Management in Photographs (June, 2004).
"In setting up my classroom, my goal is to have everything that students need available to them," explains Allyson Daley. "I ask myself: Can they get to the things that they need to get to? This helps push the children toward being in charge of themselves in the classroom and making good decisions.“ "Classroom success is all about the routines," she adds. "In my classroom, things are always done the same way. I think that helps kids feel really comfortable and really safe."
One of the most critical physical characteristics of the classroom is lighting (Phillips,1992). The importance of an appropriate visual environment for learning tasks deserves careful consideration. The visual environment affects a learner's ability to perceive visual stimuli and affects his/her mental attitude, and thus, performance. Bowers and Burkett (1987) found that "improper maintenance of fixtures led to lower than average student performance such as misinterpretation of the written word, whether on a handout or at the chalkboard" (p.3). Knirck (1970) maintained that inappropriate illumination levels "abuse the human eye and have unfortunate physiological consequences" (p.10). Mayron, Ott, Nations, and Mayron (1974) discovered that "students achieved better in classrooms with an 85 or more footcandles environment; others achieved less well" (Dunn, 1985, p.866). Classroom lighting plays a particularly critical role because of the direct relationship between good lighting and student's performance (Phillips, 1997). Hathaway and Fielder (1986) found that light is a key to the general well-being of people confined to a physical facility a great portion of the day. Rouner (1982) discovered that "illumination seems to be so important that even seasonal mood changes as strong as depression have been treated successfully merely by increasing the bright light in a person's environment" (Dunn, 1985, p.868). Lighting
Color choices can also impact the teaching/learning process. Sinofsky and Knirck (1981) found that color influences student attitudes, behaviors and learning. Rice (1953) found that paint color in schools especially carefully planned color schemes positively affect academic achievement of elementary students and especially students of kindergarten age. Papadatos (1973) suggested that the proper use of color in schools can convert an atmosphere that is depressing and monotonous into one that is pleasing, exciting and stimulating. He concluded that such change in color schemes in schools would reduce absenteeism and promote positive feelings about schools. Mild colors for walls and floors will minimize glare and brightness contrast between work stations and the surroundings. Tones may be warmer or cooler as climate and orientation may suggest. A stronger color may be used for the front wall with color related to or contrasting with the light green, white, or blue of the marker board. The idea is to get away from an institutional implication (dark green and black boards). Classrooms for young children may use stronger colors, usually in warm tones. Strong tones are not desirable Color
Summary There are several things you can do in your classroom, well before the first day of school, to create an environment that fosters learning and a positive experience in your students. These include, but are not limited to: <ul><li>Arrange the desks in a way that encourages learning but doesn’t affect the students in a negative way </li></ul><ul><li>Use lighting and color to create a psychological atmosphere conducive to learning </li></ul><ul><li>Create bulletin boards that are fun, bright, and informational </li></ul><ul><li>Take individual and developmental differences into account when decorating and organizing your classroom </li></ul><ul><li>Try to stick to a routine and class rules from the very start </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure you can see all students at all times </li></ul><ul><li>Minimize possible distractions and keep alluring materials out of arms-reach </li></ul><ul><li>Establish a traffic flow that allows students (and you) to move throughout the room without distracting each other </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be afraid to add personal touches, like lamps, plants, and comfortable chairs </li></ul><ul><li>Have fun! </li></ul>
References Ormond, Jeanne Ellis. Educational Psychology : Developing Learners . 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc., 2008. 499-540. Print. Chang, Maria L. "A Learning Space That Works." Scholastic Instructor Sep. 2003. Web. 31 May 2010. Jago, Elizabeth, & Tanner, Ken. (1999). Influence of the School Facility on Student Achievement. Retrieved May 29, 2010, from The University of Georgia Web site: http://www.coe.uga.edu/sdpl/ researchabstracts/visual.html