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Art teachers were STEAM-ing before STEAM was cool!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Planning Your Classroom Design? Look at this research...

Well, I've been busy this summer taking one of my last Graduate courses--Research Design, and it has been pretty neat. I've actually enjoyed reading about educational research and it's given me some things to think about as I move into my student teaching this Fall (YIPPEE!! SO thrilled!).

If you are blessed to have a teaching job and a classroom to plan, check out this study called, "Visual Environment, Attention Allocation, and Learning in Young Children: When Too Much of a Good Thing May Be Bad" written by Anna V. FisherKarrie E. Godwin and Howard Seltman. This article was originally published in Psychological Science May 2014. 

Here's the Abstract:
A large body of evidence supports the importance of focused attention for encoding and task performance. Yet young children with immature regulation of focused attention are often placed in elementary-school classrooms containing many displays that are not relevant to ongoing instruction. We investigated whether such displays can affect children’s ability to maintain focused attention during instruction and to learn the lesson content. We placed kindergarten children in a laboratory classroom for six introductory science lessons, and we experimentally manipulated the visual environment in the classroom. Children were more distracted by the visual environment, spent more time off task, and demonstrated smaller learning gains when the walls were highly decorated than when the decorations were removed.
(from http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/05/20/0956797614533801.abstract)

If you don't want to purchase the full article, check out this online write-up from The Association of Psychological Science that summarizes the article.

This study really got me thinking about the visuals that are in the classroom and how they affect student learning. As a graphic designer and a visual person, I get distracted easily by clutter and "stuff" all over surfaces and walls. I also need to be able to know where my supplies are. I felt like this was also true with the students in the middle school art classroom I substituted in this past Spring. I tried hard to organize the classroom to have zones and label drawers and cabinets neatly so that the students (and I) could find things and work efficiently. I also tried to keep visuals to a minimum and have them relate to the project at hand. I think in my future classroom, I would make some adjustments to that even more--I'm always learning!

I hope you enjoy this study as you plan your classroom for the fall!

P.S. If you do want some kick-butt posters for your classroom, check out my free posters here. ;-)

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