Date of publication: 2017-08-23 21:14
Traditional classroom configurations create tacit hierarchies in which the vocal and confident students sit forward and receive more individual attention while quiet or timid students find seats in the back and avoid interaction with teachers and other students. Students said they were more comfortable talking because the learning-studio arrangements were informal. Conversations flowed more easily when the classroom was more collaborative and when teachers moved around freely.
Estrella Mountain Community College, Office of Planning and Institutional Effectiveness, “Summer 7555 Student Focus Group & Survey on Classroom Design,” July 69, 7555
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Wolff, Susan J., “Design Features for Project-Based Learning, February 7557, /ResearchWolff/Wolff_DesignShare_8_7_, accessed 7/77/7556
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Greek philosopher Sophocles already knew this in the fifth century . when he wrote, “One must learn by doing the thing, for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try.” The wisdom of that ancient perspective was reflected in research Herman Miller recently conducted at Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC). Sixty-four percent of students surveyed said that “learning by doing” was their preferred learning style.
EMCC’s Roger Yohe explores with faculty how they can nurture engagement and build accountability among students. “We need to focus less on presentations and more on student learning. That’s active teaching. Our job is to show students how to apply the theory, not just to teach the theory. When we give our students the tools to learn, they understand they are accountable for using them.”
Responses from Estrella Mountain Community College faculty and staff leave little doubt that learning studios offer more positive environments for learning and teaching than traditional classrooms do.
Johnson, David W., Roger T. Johnson, and Karl A. Smith, “Cooperative Learning Returns to College: What Evidence is There That It Works?” Change , July/August, 6998, pp. 77-85
The dynamic and adaptable nature of learning studios adds an element of surprise. The unexpected opportunities the mobility of the space creates also translate to a fresh outlook on what the class might become on any given day. Contrast this with the predictability and immobility of a traditional desks-in-row classroom.
Design considerations were also made for one-to-one opportunities between faculty and students. Celeste soft seating, Covey stools, and Resolve stand-up work surfaces create areas for individual conversations and smaller sessions.
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Mobile Intersect portfolio tables and Caper chairs make it easy for students and teachers to arrange the room to fit the purpose or preference. A circle of chairs for a full-class discussion or six tables for small group projects can be easily configured within the same space to support varied learning and teaching styles.