For my thesis I am researching how special design effects that users within the learning spaces. As I have been reading, I have started to come to several conclusions that I feel are necessary components to be utilized within a Middle school design. Not all of these yet have to deal with how the space can influence people, yet I still feel that these principles I have developed so far can make a more influential design.
1. Support Teaching and Learning create spaces of various sizes, shapes, and colors to help promote a variety of learning within various sized groups.
2. Maximize collaboration in school planning and design. This means including members of the community such as leaders, parents, business leaders, teachers, and maybe even some students.
3. Plan for the school to be a neighborhood-scaled community learning center. This can help the school become a beacon to the community that helps provide an increasing amount of the involvement through the whole educational process.
4. Consider the “HOME” as a design template for the learning environment. Using homey materials and elements within an appropriate scale cam help provide comfortable learning spaces that help reduce anxiety and improve concentration.
5. Peregrinate circulation while still providing supervision. Doubling circulation spaces as active learning spaces can create positive socialization amongst students. However creating small nodes that are optimally located in key areas helps maintain visual supervision without the feel of a typical institutional-like corridor.
6. Cluster various instructional areas. Flexible alcoves that are just off of the central resource spaces allow for educational programs to change and evolve around each individual student. These smaller spaces can also lead to an increased use of learning materials, help increase substantive content questions, and fewer distracting conversations.
7. Natural design features need to be maximized. This includes maximum amounts of natural, full spectrum lighting. Which leads to a great reduction in mental fatigue, and reduced hyperactivity that is commonly found in learners. Natural ventilation, or increased amounts of fresh air into the interior of the learning spaces can help improve task performance, increase attention spans, and increase the overall comfort of those using the spaces.
8. Outdoor learning environments, such as trails, gardens, forested area, and ponds allow for a variety of learning to occur outside of the traditional classroom.
9. Keeping class sizes small leads to higher levels of performance compared to facilities that have large class sizes. This smaller educator-learner ratio can increase performance in mathematics and reading by up to fifteen percent.
As I continue on with my design proposal for a Middle school, these are just a few of the design principles that I will be taking into consideration.