Room to Learn

Why do classrooms look the same when people learn differently? These rooms for learning do not reach everyone equally. Classrooms need to expand to incorporate accessible learning as the new default.

To create a new default, it is important to explore the current one. The default classroom is a square or rectangular room. Student desks are arranged in columns and rows. There is a focal wall through which most learning happens. The room directly impacts relationships between the students, teacher, and the focal wall. From the student perspective views are dependent on the students in front and around them, those in the back have a harder time seeing the focal wall.

To create a better default, classrooms should integrate accessibility. Classrooms should allow for a greater degree of eye contact between the teacher, interpreter, and among the students. Service animals should have a space within the room to allow for movement and minimize distractions. Recognizing the diverse ways that people learn and incorporating them into classroom designs can lead to a more empathetic world. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the default allows us to design better spaces, ultimately improving the learning experience for all students.

These new understandings can be implemented at four distinct scales. The smallest scale is how students interact within the room, focusing heavily on desk arrangement and access to the focal wall. Increasing the scale, we can see how the characteristics of the room impact the students. One room then affects another through its relationships. Finally, the largest scale of adjustment relies on how many rooms come together to form hallways. Providing improved defaults at a multitude of scales enables both new and old classrooms to achieve accessible learning.

We need Room to Learn. 
Faculty Advisor:
Julia McMorrough