Principles for designing effective learning spaces
Peer collaboration, and feedback are pedagogical strategies with the greatest impact on improving learner outcomes (Hattie 2009). Flexible table groupings lead to more discussion, active student learning and frequent informal teacher help, with students in these environments outperforming those who were taught the same course in a traditional classroom (Whiteside, Brooks and Walker 2010).
Learning is enhanced in stimulating spaces. Visual and kinesthetic experiences motivate and engage students and teachers, aiding memory as “humans associate what they learn with where they learned it” (Gee 2006). Engagement is a mixture of deep understanding, active participation, and feeling valued (Munns and Woodward 2006).
Stimulating learning spaces can be designed to provide for active group learning, as well as teacher directed, individual learning, allowing responsive flexibility to suit daily learning needs. According to Gee (2006) learning spaces need to:
- Be welcoming and Familiar
- Be flexible
- Allow adequate space for movement
- Allow user ownership that enables people to change them easily
- Enable changeable focus points
- Have mobile displays that support collaboration and teaching with digital media
- Anticipate future needs
Well-designed, stimulating learning environments are an investment in effective learning, creating and supporting the development of a learning community.
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2010). The shape of the Australian Curriculum. Source: http://www.acara.edu.au/publications.html.
Gee, L. (2006). Chapter 10. Human-centered design guidelines. In D. Oblinger & J. Oblinger (Eds.) Available from http://www.educause.edu/learningspacesch10.
Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Oxon: Routledge.
Munns, G., & Woodward, H. (2006). Student engagement and student self-assessment: the REAL framework. Assessment in Education, 13(2), 193 – 213.
Jill Willis Background
Jill Willis is a lecturer in Education supporting undergraduate and postgraduate pre-service teachers in developing skills in pedagogy, assessment and curriculum planning.
Her research interests include:
- classroom assessment practices, in particular Assessment for Learning
- learner identity
- collaborative learning pedagogies
- learner engagement
Jill has twenty years of teaching experience in Queensland state and independent schools as a teacher, Head of Department and Director of Studies. Jill contributes to professional learning communities and partnerships and is engaged in research projects investigating the impact of learning environments on learner engagement in two projects in a primary school and online learning environments. She is also engaged in research work with schools in how the Australian Curriculum assessment standards can be used to enhance learning in schools.