If you want to get the best from your students, look to your classroom environment. Studies have shown that even small environmental changes can have a big impact on academic progress. Here are the environmental factors that can affect learning, productivity and motivation.
Getting the basics right
Is your classroom dim, dingy or draughty? Physical factors like temperature, air quality and light are all linked to how well we absorb information. This is perhaps unsurprising – how many times have you seen students yawning in the classroom, or fidgeting because they feel too cold?
Cold or draughty classrooms can adversely affect comfort and concentration levels, as can overheated environments. Good insulation combined with adjustable heating and air conditioning can make a significant difference to student comfort.
Lighting is another important factor. According to one study, natural light doesn’t just help us to see more clearly; it can actually promote feelings of wellbeing, too. Including sources of natural light in your classroom can therefore have a beneficial effect on pupils’ mental states. If you don’t have access to much natural light, ensure that the artificial light that you do have is adequate and without too much glare. You could consider teaching some classes outside when the weather permits.
Air quality can also affect our aptitude for learning. Inadequate ventilation can make us feel drowsy, so ensure that the air in the classroom can circulate properly. Consider upgrading your air conditioning system if this will help to improve ventilation.
Acoustics are vitally important for effective learning. If you have a noisy classroom, consider adding carpets, soundproof doors or soft furnishings to absorb the noise.
Inspiration and motivation
In a classroom that is physically comfortable with adequate lighting, there is still much that can be done to promote an effective school learning environment. Helping pupils to feel ownership of their space can have a big impact on their motivation. The choices you make about classroom layout, colour and furniture can all make a difference and help promote positive feelings about learning.
Pupils may feel indifferent and un-empowered unless they have some ownership over their learning environment – so it’s important to help them to feel that the classroom is their space. Foster a sense of community and collaboration by getting everyone involved in classroom displays.
Make sure chairs and tables are designed for children of your group’s age and size, so that they can sit and work with ease. Shelves, sinks and toilets should also be easily accessible.
Create an area within your classroom where pupils can go to relax with a book. A homely space with softer furnishings and carpet will make the space seem much friendlier.
Organise desks and chairs in a way that will foster collaboration and interaction. For group discussions, why not ditch the desks altogether and simply sit in a circle?
Use of colour in the classroom environment can affect the whole ambience of the room, promoting energy and inspiration or conversely, over-stimulating the senses. A great way to brighten up the room without going overboard is to keep walls neutral but add splashes of colour in the furniture and other peripheral classroom items.
There are many factors that can affect how pupils learn. Some of these, such as home environment and quality of sleep, may be beyond the control of the school. However, schools can do a great deal to promote learning simply by creating a positive learning environment. Making simple changes to temperature, lighting, layout and décor will foster concentration, promote feelings of wellbeing and ultimately, get better academic results.
Envoplan create workspaces that promote efficiency in offices and schools with a focus on wellbeing and intuitive design, to find out more visit: www.envoplan.co.uk
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