Classroom Design

The Effects of a Stimulating Learning Environment

A pilot project with Ohalo Academic College, Quatzrin (Israel) and Steelcase Education combining interactive pedagogy within an active learning environment.

Ohalo-1

A NEW APPROACH

A dynamic and constantly changing reality requires adaptation and change in educational approaches: the student is no longer to be seen as a passive receptacle for knowledge, but as an active participant in the construction of knowledge. This approach requires a substantial change in the teaching process and it challenges the traditional hierarchical teacher-student relations as well as the physical learning environment.

Today the learning environment should be flexible and dynamic to be adaptable to the changing needs of the teaching-learning process. This flexibility facilitates changes in the teacher-student interaction and improves the performance of various teaching-learning methods such as: teaching in a plenary session, peer learning, group learning, etc.

It is also important to provide easy access to information for students. The learning environment needs to integrate the technical infrastructure allowing the student to collaborate with others and to interact with the teacher.

The environment should create learning “opportunities”; spaces that facilitate investigation and building of knowledge and skills. The interaction between the design of physical spaces, integration of technology and new teaching methods gives rise to a more holistic “learning-oriented design concept”.

PROJECT SCOPE

The recognition of the gap between modern and traditional approaches has led to a pioneer project at the School of Education, Ohalo Academic College, Qatzrin (Israel) and Steelcase Education.

The scope was to create an experimental combination of interactive pedagogy within an innovative learning environment supported by technology. The physical learning environment should allow for a variety of teacher- student interactions by offering diverse types of “settings” through which students can have different learning experiences.

Studies have demonstrated that the construction of a purpose-built learning environment influences attention, motivation and academic achievement.

A NEW LEARNING EXPERIENCE

Ohalo worked with Steelcase Education to design and outfit a series of active learning classrooms to bring their vision to reality.

We wanted to understand to what extent does the design of a learning environment improve motivation to learn and how does the teacher perceive the influence of the new learning environment in comparison to the traditional classroom.

The research sample was composed of 87 multicultural students and 12 teachers at the Ohalo College, Qatzrin (Israel). They completed the Active Learning Post-Occupancy Evaluation questionnaire online at the beginning and the end of the semester.

Large Classroom

Large Classroom: Supports up to 120 students where three teachers work in the space simultaneously.

Medium Classroom

Medium Classroom: Supports up to 36 students and can be easily reconfigured to support different learning modes and teaching pedagogies.

Small Classroom

Small Classroom: Supports up to 16 students and can easily be reconfigured to support different learning modes.

LearnLab™

LearnLab™: Supports up to 28 students, and removes the barriers to sharing information by democratizing how people access information.


The following parameters were used for the active learning evalutation:

  • Ability to be creative
  • Motivation to attend class
  • Ability to achieve a higher grade
  • Engagement in class
  • Collaboration
  • Focus
  • Active involvement
  • Opportunity to be committed-involved
  • Use of varied means
  • Feedback in class
  • Scenarios from daily reality
  • Optimal learning methods
  • Physical movement in space
  • Stimulation
  • Performance
  • Enriching experience

A CYCLICAL LEARNING MODEL

The interactive process is based on a cyclical model of dynamic learning evolving from individual research to group debate.

The study starts on an individual level and evolves to peer and groups of different sizes up to the creation of a “learning community”. Problems and questions will be presented and co-students are invited to come up with answers based on online research.

  1. Define the topic to address
  2. Research individual research on the topic
  3. Confirm the research direction by the teacher
  4. Debate the individual findings within a small group
  5. Solve choose the solution within the group
  6. Plan the next steps
  7. Approve the solution and plan by the teacher
  8. Implement solution

ENCOURAGING RESULTS

Over 80% of respondents reported an important increase in creativity, motivation and engagement in class while studying and teaching in the new learning environment.

The learning environment facilitated the use of technology and empowered students and teachers, a key element for motivation. A significant increase in overall engagement can be observed.

Percentage Reporting Increases In

Instructors (n=15) Students (n=87)
Creativity 100% 95%
Motivation 100% 87%
Performance 93% 83%
Engagement 100% 92%

Average Score Students

New Classroom Old Classroom
Teaching Methods 39% 27%
Learning Space 40% 25%

Average Score Teachers

Teaching Methods 41% 24%
Learning Space 42% 21%

On every parameter the learning and teaching experience was improved notably on physical movement and general stimulation. They gave significantly higher evaluations for teaching methods and learning spaces in the new vs. traditional classrooms and perceived working there as more stimulating.

To maximize student success, the learning and teaching experience must evolve to support the generative activities and peer-to-peer learning. This pilot project shows that innovative classrooms and teaching methods can enhance problem solving, communication and collaboration — the skills demanded of today’s students.

Teaching Methods

New Classroom Old Classroom
Collaboration 100% 82%
Focus 92% 86%
Active involvement 98% 82%
Opportunity to engage 98% 92%
Multiple means 100% 76%
In-class feedback 96% 82%
Real-life scenarios 94% 84%
Ways of learning best 96% 76%
Physical movement 100% 54%
Stimulation 94% 64%
Comfortable to participate 100% 90%
Enriching experience 96% 80%

Learning Spaces

New Classroom Old Classroom
Collaboration 98% 82%
Focus 96% 81%
Active involvement 98% 82%
Opportunity to engage 100% 72%
Multiple means 98% 76%
In-class feedback 96% 76%
Real-life scenarios 98% 68%
Ways of learning best 100% 70%
Physical movement 98% 64%
Stimulation 100% 78%
Comfortable to participate 98% 76%
Enriching experience 100% 72%

 

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