The overall learning goal for us students is to grasp what the instructor teaches in class and gain extra knowledge and abilities through class discussion and interaction. To that end, it’s best to study in an optimal learning environment, so as to keep focused in class and avoid distraction from externals. We pay for the service – our learning experience, hoping to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of this kind of service. An optimal learning environment is beneficial to building a cohesive team in which members could communicate with each other, and to encouraging interactions among all the students and the professor.
Through observation of major students behaviors, I find that the current physical environment in our classroom was somewhat defective. The following key points are summarized as major gaps or pitfalls in the current environment. Late Arrivals: I find that most of the students arrive in the classroom ahead of or on time. However, some may be late and walk in across the stage, thus distracting other’s attention in class. Uncomfortable Chairs: The pad on each seat can make annoying noise when we unfold it. This will distract other students’ attention, especially those who sit near the moving pads.
Various Seating Preferences: students are seated randomly, most of students like to seat in the front row, and the outer of rows, leaving some seats in the middle empty, so the best capacity in the room isn’t fully utilized. Randomly seating also results in inconvenience for some group members to sit together. Inconvenient Seating Arrangement: the space between rows is narrow, so it’s not convenient for students to walk through and it’s always noisy to move the small pads connected to the seats. Moreover, it’s such a long row that it would be inconvenient and a waste of time to walk through one side to the middle or the other end.
Less Efficient Equipment — Blackboard and Projector: For those seating in the side areas and in the rear, the visibility of the projector isn’t so good. Similarly, when the professor writes on one side of the blackboard, those who seat in the other side have difficulty in reading the handwriting. Dim Lighting: the lighting in the classroom is a little dark that it’s easy for us to fall asleep. The arrangement of lights in the roof isn’t so rational that sometimes we can’t see the blackboards because of light reflecting.
Insufficient Ventilation: The windows in the back are closed all the time and the air conditioning always creates an environment that is too cold or hot and dry. Students usually don’t feel very comfortable when there’re too many students in the classroom. Difficult Access to the Classroom: More often, only one door is open to the classroom, thus restricting students’ access to the classroom to only one way. Those who can’t find a seat near the door can only go the other side, and this would distract other’s attention.
Besides, once the door is locked, the students can’t open it from outside, requiring help from those in the classroom. The above-mentioned points about the seating and facilities in the classroom would present unfavorable impacts on our learning experience. So a new layout of the classroom is required to help enhance our learning environment. Here I categorize the objectives into four points as the conceptual design principles. * To make full use of the 75 minutes in class, which means there’s no or little disruption during class. * Perfect seating arrangement to facilitate easy access and smooth movement.
* Minimum discipline required relating to seating arrangement so that everyone will feel comfortable when in class. * Make facilities, such as blackboard and projector, lighting, acoustics, and walls, conducive to learning experience. (b) What specific improvement would your proposed redesign help accomplish? Generally speaking, students will learn best in a clean, comfortable, and quiet environment where there are no external disruptions and noises. So we need a positive classroom climate to allow us to meet the basic needs of physical and mental health.
The following session is about the recommendations I make to help alleviate the gaps and thus enhance the learning experience. Physically Comfortable Chairs: We could improve the quality of the chairs by signing contracts with those chair-makers who could provide user-friendly chairs. That is to say, the activity space for writing and putting stuffs would be larger, and it’s best for the chairs to be soundless when we unfold the pads with them. Easy Access Seating Arrangements: I will redesign the current layout of the seats by dividing all these seats into four columns and four rows.
There could be four seats per column for the middle two columns, and the other two sides columns could have five or six seats each. The distance between each row could be larger so as to allow sufficient space for individuals to learn. This kind of design could enable students to access to the seats easily without disturbing others much. The professor could also make minimum requirements that those who come early seat in the middle, thus those who are late for class could seat in the sided columns without distracting others. More importantly, since a team is usually composed of four persons, it’s also convenient for groups to sit together.
Additionally, in this way, students will seat together more compactly, facilitating discussion among teachers and students. Larger Projector Screen and High-tech Handwriting: It would be best to widen the projector screen in this rectangular room. As I mentioned above, for those seat in the sides and rear, it’s hard to recognize some important contents in the slides projected on the screen (e. g. numbers, charts). Enlarging the projector screen would surely enhance the visibility of projector and hence improve our learning experience. Meanwhile, I noticed that sometimes the handwriting of the professor is hard to read.
And those sitting aside couldn’t see the notes in the blackboard clearly. So I recommend that the professor use high-tech product such as the pad or IBM’s tablet-based pen, by which the professor could write on the screen of the laptop and it could then be projected in the blackboard screen. With enlarged screen, the visibility of handwriting could also be enhanced. Bright Lighting and “Audiovisual Scenario”: We need to add more electrical lights in our classroom and rearrange the light distribution. However, the lights couldn’t be too bright to harm the eyes and result in reflecting.
More importantly, we need to consider the illuminance levels according to daylight, glaring and uniformity. Another thing we need to take into account is the lighting requirements for video images. So it’s best for us to have two distinctly lighting setups: a “bright” classroom with appropriate illuminance throughout the classroom, and an ”audiovisual” scenario that limits light on the screen to a suitable level when we see vedios in class. Warm Color of walls: Choosing the right color for classroom walls is conducive to learning experience.
The right pain color of the wall can transform a distracted environment into a focused space. White is a traditional color, but it could undermine the learning environment of the classroom. It reflects most of the lights that hits it, and could be harsh and exhaust our eyes. While taupe and cream colors of wall would be warmer, and could help students more focused. Evidence also shows that warm colors such as taupe and cream can stimulate creativity. Using different colors on the wall where there’re some facilities so as to remind the professor and students of the purpose of them.
For example, the background color of the walls on which there are hangers could be light blue or purple, colors which can also help you relaxed and calmed. Optimized Ventilation: The method of distributing outdoor air in classroom has a positive impact on indoor air quality and thermal comfort of students. So it would be better if students could open the windows in the back wall when the class is finished. And students who come for the next class could close the windows before class, letting fresh air come in for 15-20 minutes.
Moreover, It’s best to leave the two doors to the classroom open. On the one hand, it could expedite the flow rate of air and enhance the ventilation and exchange effectiveness. On the other hand, leaving two doors open would facilitate those late arrivals to find seats in the sides, so that they don’t need to go straightly in front of the teacher, thus diminishing distraction. External Diminished Noise and Distraction: Since the walls in the classroom are already sound proof, we don’t need to worry about the noise from outside.
The major noise created by late arrivals to move through seats could be addressed through the new layout of seats and improved seat quality. Hence, students would be more focused in class. Clean Environment and Safety Facilities: Basically, a clean environment in the classroom is a must for students to gain the best learning experience. Students should be required to take with them the trashes after class, and the cleaners also need to tide the classrooms more frequently. Furthermore, It’s best to check the safety facilities in the classroom such as the fire alarm on a regular basis, say, twice a month.
Because students will be relieved when they know they are learning in a safe place. In sum, the above-mentioned rearrangements are all considered to be physically, emotionally and academically favorable to the learning experience in this classroom. Once students are physically comfortable with the environment they are in, they will be emotionally focused on what they are learning and talking. Moreover, the academically improved learning equipment could maximize the learning experience the students would go through.
Courtney from Study Moose
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