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Designing Learning Environments

Designing Learning Environments- More Then Just Furniture 


            It used to be that when people talked about classroom environments conducive to learning, they were talking about a room with comfortable seating,  good lighting and a reasonable temperature.  While these factors still have some value, there is much more to a good learning environment than physical comforts.


            Webster’s Dictionary offers a definition of environment as, ”the circumstance or conditions surrounding one”.  Educators have taken into account the physical conditions conducive to learning to the extent that teachers are evaluated on their room environment.  It is only recently that educators are starting to look at the psychological aspects of a good learning environment.  Some of these aspects include;


  • Centering instruction around the students.  Connect learning with their culture and previous knowledge and/or experiences. 
  • Assess students so you know what they know, and build on that knowledge.
  • How we instruct students depends on what we want them to learn. If you want them to understand how something works, the classroom must provide opportunities for students to experiment, discuss and evaluate.
  • Assessments, both formative and summative need to be ongoing and involve the student as part of the process to improve instruction and learning.  The big change here is to remove the negative and punitive aspects of “tests” and look at really assessing our students.  We also need to teach our students to assess themselves.
  • Schools need to align teaching, goals, and assessments.
  • A sense of community needs to be created with common goals and values.  This can be limited to a classroom but must include the parents.  Working in a community creates a “safe” learning environment in the classroom where students feel supported by their teachers and each other.


These aspects of a good learning environment are starting to get notice and are being implemented in some private and charter schools.  Unfortunately from what I have observed, it will take awhile for the public schools to catch on.  Why?  ...well that’s another paper.


Donna Zero