Versatility of the environment is vital when it comes to the enhancement of an academic institution. The school authorities including staff and students should be given the choice to decide on the kind of environment that they want to exist in. The development of a school right from its setup to its admission is supposed to be a collaborative process where the suggestions and opinions from everyone should be accepted to facilitate meaningful learning.
The interior classroom structure constitutes in developing an attitude to learn which is why the major emphasis is given on the outer appearance of a school building. Let’s take the case of two scenarios to clearly understand the motive behind this idea.
You walk into a classroom and see all the furniture arranged in a uniform style in rows and columns. On the other hand, you walk into a room and see a variety of seating types. Some tables are arranged in groups of three or four and some of them are kept in different corners. If you are a student, which seating arrangement would you prefer? Which classroom setting is more likely to grab student interest?
The transformation is happening on a grand scale in the teaching and learning sector but a shift in classroom design is not happening at the same rate. There are six elements that support and encourage 21st-century learning- comfort, choice, connection, technology, stimulation, and versatility. However, this article only deals with comfort, why it important and how we can integrate choice into school design
Why we should provide a choice?
If we are giving students an option to decide where they want to sit and how they want to learn would result in a drastic change in their cognitive level and learning outcome. The desired changes are as follows:
1. Strengthens collaboration: students are likely to show interest in learning if they are allowed to make choices regarding their study plan or classroom design. Autonomy is the main driver of human motivation which leads to engagement
2. Inclusiveness: some students who have anxiety problems can be sensitive to certain types of fabrics. If there are a variety of options for where to sit and work lets them choose as per their convenience. This would allow them to connect with their peers more inclusively.
3. Enhance social and emotional learning: it promotes responsible decision – making and builds confidence. When students are given the power to make learning decisions, they feel more responsible for their own growth.
4. Sense of ownership: choice puts students at the center of learning and gives them a signal that they are empowered to take authority of their own education. As a result, children would be inquisitive and think, learn and investigate instead of waiting for the teacher to provide with readymade answers
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is the perfect solution to meet a wide range of student needs and abilities. Teachers seem to be incorporating UDL principles into their learning environment because it is a flexible framework that can accommodate differences in student learning outcomes. It demands to use instructional methods that offer multiple representations and tap into student’s requirements.
The idea behind the UDL approach is for teachers to build different teaching approaches that resonate with individual needs. So, integrating choice into the learning approach is nothing but applying the UDL method into learning.
Distinct ways to incorporate choice into classroom design
There are multiple ways to include choice into a learning environment and these are as follows:
1. Opt for individual or group seating as well as a mix of soft and hard seating options
2. Instead of prescribing various tools and materials for teaching, help students to make decisions by themselves. They also should be allowed to choose whether they want to work alone or in groups
3. Use furniture that can be moved around the room and quickly rearranged. It allows students to switch from group to individual tasks and vice versa.
Of course, there are some challenges that teachers will have to overcome while making this work in the classroom. Sometimes students might make unwise decisions due to lack of knowledge and awareness. In such cases, teachers should stand as constant support and give them the right direction to proceed with their studies.
The Changing Dynamics of Educational Infrastructure In terms of School Architecture and Interior Design
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