When you think back on learning to walk or ride a bike, these lessons weren’t best understood through discussion—rather trial and error. This is top of mind as architectural professionals assemble plans for state-of-the-art educational facilities. Is there more of a value in hands-on active learning environments, or lecture compatible settings? The material being taught, of course, plays a large role – however a recent Building Design + Construction article explored the needs of top-performing classroom environments.
Studies have shown that STEM-focused coursework (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is best delivered through active-learning. Given this, instructors focused on productivity and efficiency in their teaching tools have been working together to explore more engaging technologies that can be integrated into a building to improve student performance and information retainage.
I like the idea of “thinking beyond the four walls students are used to” that the article acknowledged. Contrary to the grid of desks and chairs that most have experienced in school, flexible furniture is making active learning and out-of-the-box thinking more attainable.
Both indoor and outdoor spaces are showing benefits to keeping learning interesting. Many school administrations are exploring environments that combine the two as much as possible. From enhancing technology, interactive smart boards, touch-screen computers, and wall writing surfaces, students are able to experience a bit more dimension to their learning. This is something that is not only helping teachers relay information more productively, but more built-to-suit options allow students to learn more fully.
Through creating spaces conducive to affinity grouping and various methods of learning, education environments become more personalized and need/skillset-driven. One additional note that isn’t always common knowledge is that highly effective learning settings do not have to be high-technology driven. If designed properly with function in mind, there is plenty of opportunity for engagement.
It’s no secret that the built environment plays a pretty detrimental role in a building’s function, but realizing that it can improve learning is a finding that is worth remembering in planning new facilities and improving existing structures. In addition to the learning features of a classroom, factors such as lighting, acoustics, temperature, and air quality all can play a striking role in improving the learning process.