Fostering ownership in the classroom
Physiological and psychological research indicate that personalisation of space is an important factor in the formation of an individual's identity and sense of self-worth. Several studies have also found that intimate and personalised spaces are better for absorbing, memorising and recalling information.
Classrooms where children can display their own projects, artwork, etc., have also been found to promote greater participation and involvement in the learning process.
In the Clever Classrooms report, the summary report for the HEAD Project, a range of factors are outlined as important in helping children identify with "their" classroom. The report's recommendations include:
- The classroom should have a distinctive room design or characteristics that make it instantly familiar to children.
- The classroom should include opportunities for children's work to be displayed on walls and on dedicated display tables.
- The classroom should include personalised elements such as name-labelled coat pegs, lockers or drawers for each pupil.
- Desks and chairs should be comfortable, interesting and ergonomic to the children's ages and sizes.
All classrooms require some degree of flexibility to cater for different modes of learning.
In such cases, additional cooling devices such as ceiling fans and air-conditioning units are advisable.
- Clearly defined breakout zones or breakout rooms.
- Varied floor plans to create a variety of activity areas for younger pupils. For older pupils, squarer and larger rooms are more effective.
- Providing adequate and accessible storage.
- Large, accessible wall areas for the flexible display of information and students' work.
- Different learning zones for play-based learning for younger children, with clear through-routes between zones.
- Flexible arrangement of desks and furniture.
Children spend more time at school than in any other place, except their homes. On average, children spend around 200 days per year in school, and 70% of that time is spent inside classrooms. Giving them ownership of "their" classrooms and providing them with flexible learning environments should be integral to all school design, today and in the future.
- Clever Classrooms (2015), Summary report of the HEAD project, University of Salford, Manchester