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Creating Effective Learning Environments for Learners sample essay

Introduction

Environment is all the physical and social conditions that surround and can influence a person’s health. A learner’s physical environment on the other hand include the class surrounding like locker ,chairs and other items that are physical found either inside or outside and around the class. Social environment refers to the immediate social setting in which people live or in which something happens or develops. It includes the culture that the individual was educated or lives in, and the people and institutions with whom they interact. An urban area is a town, a place that has developed in the various sectors including infrastructure and other institutions hence noise and other destructible deeds become order of the day. Due to scarce land for building, schools end up being built next to pubs or even on top of pubs. In defining an effective learning environment it’s important to first consider the uniqueness of learners and how they learn.

Physical environments

a) Space and materials

The teacher should take into consideration who should be arranged in the rows and columns. The class arrangement matters a lot for effective teaching to occur. First, students should be arranged facing the teacher for easy monitoring as the teacher is teaching. Secondly, the teacher should now all the students individually and there by now the different problems the learners have which might help him/her to plan the class. For instance students with eye sight problems should sit where they are comfortable in order to understand the teacher well as suggested by Roger Hiemstra. Siegel has found that there is direct relationship between architecture and collaboration of teachers. The arrangement of space has immediately and far reaching consequences for teachers. The arrangement of space has immediate and far reaching consequences for teachers’ ability to effectively and efficiently accomplish daily activities; the formation of social and professional considerations of the spaces where teachers meet and collaborate is just as important as the design of classroom.

Desirable designs include having friendly environment and agreeable areas, supervised private areas for students, as well as public areas that foster a sense of community with particular attention to the color used. A good class room should be inviting, have the necessary learning material readily accessible, eliminate or cover destructing features either inside or outside the class. Class concentrations should be avoided because it encourages laziness among students due to lack of proper supervision by the teacher. Therefore during class arrangements, at least there should be space where the teacher can move around and monitor the learner’s progress. Also work groups can be convenient for those learners that want to indulge in group work and discussions.

b) Sitting position and types of furniture

Knight and Noyes performed a study on class furniture in relation to children’s behavior and sitting positions between traditional and ergonomically designed furniture. They found that children showed a significant improvement in task behavior and marked change in sitting positions following the new designed furniture that makes students to sit upright. In relation to sitting positions, Linton e tal(1994) didn’t observe any different sitting position in the children in their study using ergonomically designed furniture was more comfortable. Chairs that are not upright encourage loss of class concentration hence leaving room for poor class concentration.

c) Use of visual items to enhance better understanding

The benefits arising from use of visuals for instance chats illustrations and others has provided multiple opportunities for children to process, reflect on and integrate information presented in a story since the spoken language is fleeting in comparison to a visual representation of the same material according to Gersten and Baker. Obviously biology students can’t be taught the topic on bones without even seeing a sample which there by illustrates visual items enhance understanding hence facilitate effective learning. A visual chat make learning more interesting and makes learners understand better what is being taught.

d) Temperature and air quality

Earthman rates temperature, heating and air quality as the most individual elements for student achievement in learning. A class that is well lit, warm when environment is cool or cool when it is hot is more suitable to accommodate effective learning. Furthermore if the classroom is up to date and current technology is available, the student will keep pace with their peers who have access to this equipment. Where classes are positioned in a school matters a lot. Class next to staffrooms where teachers crack jokes can distract the students concentration and learning in class. Classes should be situated in areas away from paths that distract pupils. An example is a class next to the main road leading to the main gates will always have cars; people and this will hinder effective learning because students will always be staring at anything passing outside instead of listening to the teacher. Police cars that enter in school will freak out students because they will always be curios on what is going to happen.

e) Lighting

There is a considerable amount of literature relating to light and classroom. In relation to student suitability to learning, day light is seemed to have positive effect to the learners studying environment which is suitable for learning. However day light source can’t be had in class because it’s impractical. Benya suggested that for lighting to be effective, day light must be supplemented automatically by controlled electric lighting that dims in response to day light levels. Barmitt suggests that good lighting can only be achieved by combination of direct and indirect lighting. Indoors lighting can be different depending on color and temperature its bringing and different light intensities.

Jago and Tanner argue that the visual environment affects a learner’s ability to perceive visual stimuli and affects his/her mental attitude and thus performance. Knez found evidence of lighting conditions that induced positive affect improved performance. Web, puts forward various incidences of learners being hospitalized because of use of kerosene lamps which emitted smoke that is harmful to human beings’ health. Results of the smoke include irritating eyes, coughing and chest aches due to the harmful smoke. All these can be overcome by installing good electric lighting systems which somehow have lesser side effects hence enhancing favorable learning environments. f) Noise and its resolutions

Noise next to noisy areas that can’t be avoided can be reduced through several measures which include: Using sound absorbing materials like carpets, under blocks, foam surfaces on carpentry bench nets in gross motor areas. Using sound barriers like carpets, upholstered furniture, grass in outdoor areas, upholster dividers and acoustic tiles also is an efficient way of controlling noise. A good school should separate noisy areas from the quite ones for instance libraries should not be situated next to the play fields. Also laboratories should be separated from the kitchens to avoid contamination of food. g) Color

According to some findings, colors also affect all individuals at two levels: behavioral response and learned response. A behavioral response is a response that’s automatic, inherited and not affected by age, sex, culture, financial considerations or environment. This type of response occurs naturally; the individual is not aware of making a response for instance using bright, intense colors e.g. red to decorate an infant’s room can prevent the infant from sleeping well(Chinazzarl 1998). This is not a surprising issue as the red color is seen to elevate blood pressure according to liber man (1991)

h) Teacher

According to Talis, teacher’s beliefs, practices and attitudes are important for understanding and improving educational processes. They are closely linked to teachers’ strategies for coping with challenges in their general wellbeing and they shape students learning environment and influence students motivation and achievement. Talis illustrates that many studies have described aspects of teaching practice which are related to effective classroom learning and student outcomes.

Close monitoring, adequate pacing and classroom management as well as clarity of presentation, well-structured lessons, in formative and encouraging feedback has generally shown positive impact in student learning achievement while teachers provide learning opportunities, these must be recognized and utilized by the student to be effective. Motivation goals and outcomes have to be taken into account as well. Also researchers agree that the teacher is responsible for creating opportunities for interaction and communication among classmates and between students and the instructor. Vitale (2010) suggests that well planned and defined discussion questions help the students to understand the course content, especially the application of new knowledge to clinical practice situation.

Communication

Galton et al, (1999) assumes that it is important for teachers to be able to communicate effectively with pupils, although it is sometimes less certain how this should be defined. Moos’s (1979) evaluation of classroom environment addresses this since subscales relating to teacher behavior and classroom management such as ‘teacher support’ and ‘rule clarity’, clearly involve communication. A study of disruptive behavior in a particular school (Badger, 1992) found that both pupils and teachers often explained problem behavior in terms of failures of communication, with teachers advocating more discussion and improved relationships as ways to improve the situation. Another aspect of communication is that which goes on with parties outside the school.

Effective communication has been highlighted as key to the improvement of schools in developing countries by Dalin et al (1994), though in this case it is communication with government and other authorities which is being suggested. More generally, communication with those beyond the school building is an issue referred to in the education literature, but again without necessarily examining the setting that may facilitate it. For instance, in his study of disruptive behavior, Badger (1992) found that teachers often mentioned that there was a need to improve relationships with parents, while Idea (1970) argue for the importance of involving parents and the wider community in school design. Such intentions clearly involve more communication and are involved in the general issue of the school’s place in the wider community, which has already been considered.

Commonly abused Drugs and learning

The pub can be a source of some of the drugs like alcohol. Alcohol has many effects on students who drink too much which may include staying out late and wakening up exhausted with a hangover. As a result, they may have a number of absences and their school work may suffer. Younger children may find it difficult to get ready for school without clean clothes or a ride, as the parent is hung over or drunk. As a result, truancy, delinquency, poor school performance may be present. Underachievement, emotional distance from peers and withdrawal may be noticed.

Drinking alcohol can lead to reduced coordination, slurred speech, blurred vision, slower reaction times and an impaired memory. People under the influence of alcohol have less impulse control and impaired judgment. Some of these effects are temporary while others are more long-lasting. Alcohol consumption can also lead to blackouts and lapses in memory. Long-term alcohol abuse can cause Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which is a brain disorder that causes mental confusion. All this affects learners’ studies hence affecting the learning environment negatively. The American medical association recently announced that underage drinkers were found to have hippocampuses that were 10 percent smaller than non-drinkers. This matters when it comes to learning because the hippocampus is the part of the brain that is responsible for memory and learning. Because of the changes that the teen brain is going through, alcohol use can “seriously damage long- and short-term growth processes.

The brain isn’t the only factor in a person’s ability to learn. The external environment also plays a crucial role in determining how much a person can and will learn. Alcohol use, especially among teenagers, can lead to social problems that can have long-term effects on learning. Underage drinking has been linked to poor academic performance and harmful behaviors such as illegal drug use and promiscuous sexual behavior. These social problems can reduce the opportunities students have to learn as they may be denied access to certain educational offerings or compromise their ability to get into schools or training programs. Alcohol use has been linked to higher truancy rates, which translate into fewer learning opportunities ————————————————-

Ways of reducing drug consumption in schools:
a. ————————————————-
Putting talk sessions to heighten the dangers of drugs to health and school studies ————————————————-

According to Bruce and David (2011), guidance and counseling should act as pre rehabilitation centers for the students because when they get to know the effects of a certain drugs to their health, definitely some group of students will change their minds and attitudes towards doing drugs like alcohol. This small achievement will later become huge because students do mostly what others do and a small change will bring an anti-drug environment which is a start to a good learning environment. Peers have a lot to accomplish in terms of behavior.

The peers should be modeled to reinforce good behavior between them hence achieving positive results towards learning. Also according to Taylor (2001) students at youth level tend to give in what other youths say compared to advice given from people much older than them. Therefore an organization like the guidance and cancelling department should organize for people who are at least in a youthful age to give talks on effects of drugs. Chronicle addicts who have changed behavior due to the terrible effects of drugs can really touch some of the students and hence initiate change in behavior among the students thus fostering good learning environments in the schools b. ————————————————-

Random register checks and school monitoring
————————————————-
Tricks like skipping classes and ditching preps for luxury in the pub can mostly be curbed down through this strategy. Random student registers also keep students on their toes and hence this reduces class absenteeism because of alcohol and other drugs. Students who are always absent and caught doing drugs should severely be punished for them to serve good examples to the school. Therefore addicts will always be afraid of being caught on the wrong hence reducing the number of drug addicts. ————————————————-

Expelling can be used to show examples of what happens to naughty behaviors. Expelled students bring their parents and hence their issues discussed by four parties which include the teacher, parent, student and school committee. From an effective meeting resolutions can be made and learners can change behavior. c. Approach of doing things that interest and occupy the students mind Charllottas, Web (2007) suggests that youth students are very sensitive people and in order to make them interact well with their environment; they should be made part of the environment. Sessions where learners are supposed to meet teachers and air out issues affecting them is crucial in helping them with the effective environment issue. To facilitate learning, an entertainment hall can be built to cater for the student’s refreshment needs hence vanishing ideas of dodging school and preps for the refreshments at the pub. Also during shows like talent shows; one can make students gain interest in what they are best at and this will motivate students who might not be that perfect in class and have eventually lost hope in studies.

d. Putting age restrictions in refreshment areas and pubs: Jordan (2009) gave out the approach that in order to stop students from drinking, the pub should enforce certain laws and restrictions. Through collaboration between the teachers and the pub supervisors, the pub attends should inform teachers of any suspicions that students might have been seen in the pub. Also the pub should enforce laws like no underage people are allowed in the pub. At the entrance, every person should produce identity cards to extinguish adults from the school kids. Effective learning experience Building quality teaching, learning and assement environment.

Building quality teaching and learning environment

According to Oliver and Omar 1999, there is growing movement toward designing learning environments that recognize the communicative power of the internet to support an active and constructive role for learners. Factors influencing learning experience include the quality of learner support systems, the assumption made by learners and educators about the experience itself, the educational design and support networks for learners and educators. Considering complexity of these factors can have on learning experience, possible resolutions to these issues tend to assist and learning also, where assements task drive the learner and the technology support the learning process. Effective learning is used in the sense of bringing about change to professional practice. Investigation with teachers say that they experience were of the less effective forms of professional development. They include:

* passive didactic expenditure experiences where is an overreliance on external expertise * external training events

* one off training events

These experiences may result in a quick fix but they do not often result in lasting change and may in fact be counter product (Carnell 1999). The less effective forms of professional development are of low complexity context free. They are single track, usually focusing on content or skills and don’t require judgment. The more effective forms are of high complexity. These take into account teachers experiences and emotions and are dependent on the particular learning and social context. They are multi track, meaning they focus on and connect different aspect of the context, development understanding, facilitate tearing and change. They require refection analysis, judgment, and dialog. Teachers need a strong knowledge base in child development which enables then to make decision regarding what activities, materials and experiences will be appropriated for children of various ages. Learners are mostly interested in the moving classical technological advancements. Books are crucial but also computers are making big strides in enhancing the students’ learning.

Bransford, Brown, and Cocking illustrate four essential elements of effective learning environments: they are learner- centered, knowledge centered, assessment centered and community centered. In a learner-centered learning environment, teachers take the knowledge and prior experiences of individual learners into account in their teaching and try to accommodate learners’ strengths and interests. This approach is based on cognitive research findings that prior knowledge is the basis for constructing all new understanding. An example of a learner-centered approach might be a social studies teacher’s asking students about their daily routine as they study the human impact on the environment and how individual actions do make a difference on a global scale. In a knowledge-centered learning environment, teachers direct learning activities toward developing students’ deep understanding. Research has demonstrated that deep understanding is necessary for learners to apply knowledge in a given situation and to transfer it to new ones.

This requires teachers to make a careful analysis of what they want learners to know and be able to do when they finish a learning activity or course and to provide students with the foundational knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed for the successful application and transfer of that learning. For example, a social studies teacher might focus a unit about the civil war on its causes and political context and to support this higher-level conceptual understanding might ask can then guide students’ continued thinking and revision strategies.

The importance of this aspect of an effective learning environment is supported by research findings that students who are active in and take charge of their learning can better regulate and improve their approaches and efforts. It is also consistent with research showing that students build new knowledge on existing knowledge and that the more visible their thinking is to them, the more effectively they can modify and refine it. For example, a social studies teacher might allow students multiple opportunities to demonstrate their developing understanding throughout a government unit by asking them to create and update a concept map of similarities and differences between local and state governance.

In a community-centered learning environment, students need not only to feel safe to ask questions and to reveal their ideas and difficulties they have in understanding the subject matter, but also to develop norms of behavior that contribute to successful learning in that learning environment. Research shows that social interactions and norms within a community of learners will affect how learners approach their work and that connecting the curriculum to communities beyond the classroom will influence the degree of understanding that students develop. For example, a social studies teacher might put students in contact with other students from another culture or geographic setting to better understand the influence of culture on the topic they are studying. Therefore it’s of worth to recognize these four elements believed to support learning hence allowing teachers to improve upon their learning environments for more effective teaching and learning.

SCHOOL CRISES

a. Causes of school crises
They include:

* Physical causes caused by school facilities for instance broken water pipes, cracked walls in campus, bad prepared food and many others. * Physiological and mental causes. A good example is break out of diseases like congenital diseases, emotional distance * Contextual causes involve crisis caused by social factors like if there was an aging population in a school district, there would be a decrease in the number of school aged pupils and hence the age enrollment rate. It might eventually lead to class reduction or even closure. If there are drug addicts near a school, teachers and students might be disturbed or even injured. * Ethical and moral causes: losses resulted from behavior constitutes a violation of professional integrity among members of school. * Disorder causes: if school members had low awareness of school discipline and rules, low morale or the tendency to careless, procrastination and chaotic behavior may easily trigger off various kinds of accidental incident.

b. Effects of school crisis

* Physiological damage, health hazard, disability and evidently this will disrupt the learning environment because an upright person who becomes disabled will not be having what he/she had before the accidents * Property loss will disrupt the learning environment because subjects like chemistry will require lab practicles and without labs it will be hard to experiment. * Taking responsibility which includes direct or indirect legal, economical and moral responsibility for example a school might have to take responsibilities if a pupil was injured during school activity. * Education damage involving relation between the school members deteriorates after the experience of the crisis.

c. Managing school crises in order to foster learning

Crisis management includes the measures and policies taken to deal with incidences that enviably disrupt learning. Siegel (1991) suggests that before working on a crises management one should figure out nature, meaning and related variables of the school crises. Schools should eliminate all possible causes of risk, and convert them into predictable and controllable variables. They should device long term preparation plans for preventing damages in future crises, and develop members’ ability to handle emergency situation effectively. As that world `becomes more complicated and fast changing than ever before there is much increasing impact on current school operation, resulting in various kinds of school crises. School crises definitely do not support effective learning hence should be abolished as much as possible.

Some of them are and foreseeable of which the management could devise necessary strategic or operational plans deal with , or arrange to means of insurance to compensate for loss; while others are usually dormant but may suddenly disrupt school operation or even cause injury and death or destruction of school property (Raffan, 1984) Through good school management most of these crisis can systematically predicted and managed, loss minimized and operation and development of schools can also be maintained hence fostering good learning environment. The management tactics vary from among school crisis.

Technology enhancing an effective learning environment

Educational technology has been cited to make major milestone in improving the learners’ learning environments. Educational technology includes hardware such as personal computers, smaller peripherals such as Global Positioning Systems (GPSs) and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) that interface with computers and other equipment that can interface with such digital tools such as video cameras and VCRs. Also included in this definition is the software that runs on these devices and networks that allow them to send and share information among them. Bransford, Brown, and Cocking analyzed in their research that educational technology can make important contributions to effective learning environments hence they concluded that technology can enliven teaching and learning by facilitating the incorporation of real-world problems into the curriculum. Educational technology can help make a learning environment more learner-centered by providing a greater variety of resources that allows students to follow their own interests and build upon their strengths.

It can also help teachers motivate students to work toward deep understanding or transfer by illustrating how what is under study in the classroom relates to the world beyond it such as by accessing real-time data on current events. Technology can help teachers meet students’ differentiated needs, by serving as a tool for enrichment or review or for presenting information in additional formats. According to Driscoll (2002) and Rieber (1996) the research literature describes how educational technology can serve as a tool that supports learning by allowing the learner to engage in more complex than otherwise possible. For example, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can layer data about population density on top of information about political party affiliation and socio-economic status.

Seeing such data simultaneously in tools such as GIS, or simulations, or computer-based micro worlds, can contribute to making a learning environment more knowledge-centered by helping students better see complex relationships and address more analytical questions than otherwise possible. The research summarized by Bransford, Brown, and Cocking has also shown that technology can make it easier for teachers to provide students with feedback about their work. For instance, it can aid in capturing performances for review and display, and it can provide multiple practice opportunities and track or calculate changes in performance along the way.

It can also make it easier to communicate within and outside the classroom, providing additional opportunities for feedback in relation to Driscoll (2002)’s opinion. Thus, technology can aid teachers in making an educational environment more assessment-centered. Networked educational technology can also support communication among learners, as well as between their parents and their teachers. By allowing asynchronous and synchronous communication, whether by bulletin board, email, web pages, or chat rooms, technology can enable an exchange of ideas and questions and develop a sub-culture focused on learning and on intellectual habits productive for learning. In these ways, educational technology can aid the development of a community-centered learning environment.

Conclusion:

A good learning environment is crucial to promoting effective learning. In order to improve the learning environment the teachers, parents, learners and the community at large should join hands to make sure a good environment is achieved through peaceful co-existence of these four parties.

REFFERENCES:
Ceng, Y, C (2005) New paradigm for Re-engineering Education. Globalization and Industralization.Netherlands.Springer Higgins e tal(2004) Chronic noise, exposure impairs Cognitive Functioning with a number of studies. New York.
Palgrave Press Marks,J(2001) The Educational Facilities Laboraties:National Clearinghouse for Educational facilities.Washington D.C.Edfacilties publishers Schultz, F (2001) Education.Dushkin.McGraw

Willis (1996) Managing todays classroom. Finding alternatives to control and compliance.McGraw.Dushkin
Bofetta, P. & Garfinkel, L. (1990) Alcohol drinking and mortality among men enrolled in an American Cancer Society prospective study. Epidemiology. New York. Palgrave Press Burke, C & I Grosvenor (2003) The School I’d like: Children and Young People’s Reflections on an Education for the 21st Century. London. Routledge Falmer.

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