Changing classroom environment changes students’ engagement?

A while ago, I read in Virginia Tech news that to facilitate interactive and technology-driven learning, Virginia Tech spends $42 million to have a brand-new building with state-of-the-art classrooms. These classrooms have moveable furnishings, wall-mounted writing spaces, and multiple screens for sharing students’ work. Besides, some classrooms are specifically designed for team-work and active learning. Although I have not been to any of these classrooms, I hope that these facilities can increase students’ interaction and then learn better.

I think students come to class because they want to learn something. Even with this good goal or motivation, it is not hard to find students, who look bored, disengaged, or even fall asleep in classrooms. Traditional classroom setup (with desks in straight rows facing the front of the classroom where the teacher stands or sits) limits interaction between students and teachers and students with each other, which limits students’ relational involvement and connection, leading to students’ disengagement. Studies showed changing desks in different patterns, decorating the classroom, or changing light and temperature of classrooms could significantly improve the learning environment, therefore the student’s engagement. Luckily, these changes have been seen in many classrooms. I have talked to other students and agreed that students now want more interactions in the classroom environment. Students want a stronger relationship with teachers, with peers; want teachers know their background and learning style; and want their teachers to establish an environment to promote interdependent relationship and a culture of learning. With support of technology, connection and communication are getting easier and faster than ever.

Therefore, I have reasons to believe that the classroom environment plays an important role in students’ learning experiences. A classroom with interactive and technology facilities will support students to learn, apply their learning, and turn it into their knowledge. Of course, a modern classroom is not enough; teaching technique, learning activities, and method of assessment to name a few are also needed.

5 thoughts on “Changing classroom environment changes students’ engagement?

  1. Vartan

    I agree that the classroom environment definitely enhances teaching experience. It gives the sense to the students that they are important and that we do our best to teach them, that could drive them to work harder as well.

  2. Alex Noble

    I also agree with you that the classroom environment can have a huge impact on student engagement and learning experiences. Unfortunately, sometimes instructors are forced to teach in rooms with less than optimal conditions. In those cases you have to rely on your dazzling personality and charisma to engage your students. I think you might enjoy this post by Meghan: if you haven’t had an opportunity to read it yet.

  3. Andrea

    I completely agree on the effect that the environment can have on the learning experience. As I was reading your post, I remembered what was probably my favorite class in undergrad and how, in spite of how much I liked the subject and the professor and his method of teaching, there were still a few times when I was that one student falling asleep in the middle of the class. It would happen whenever I was running on little sleep and it would hit me during this class because the professor would dim or turn off the lights in order to increase the slide visibility. He also had a ‘soothing’ voice so all combined it was game over for me trying to fight off sleep. In hindsight, I should have probably made sleep more of a priority in my life. I’m still working on that.

  4. Kyriakos Tsoukalas

    Less technologically equipped facilities can be hindering for the learning process when it comprises of activities that create the need for technological support. Nevertheless, self-motivation in learning is irreplaceable, because it creates engagement and exploits any available resources. I agree with you that “a modern classroom is not enough.” Engagement comes with expectations.

  5. socl123

    Great post! I happen to think the same regarding classroom environment. Elementary classroom environments are becoming more technologically savvy and employing upgraded techniques to keep students interested and excited to learn. I wonder how we can keep interacting with students using technology at the college level in a way that is fresh, new and engaging to them since many have grown up with this type of educational environment.

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