Does the Classroom Environment Matter?

April 20, 2022 Watermark Insights

Does the classroom environment matter?

Assessments and course evaluations reveal crucial information that teachers and instructors can and should apply to build a better classroom learning environment. These insights can help us restructure how our classrooms function and show us how we can better evaluate teachers, students, and coursework to improve educational experiences as times change.

The most recent large-scale impact on our education system provides an excellent example. When the pandemic forced nationwide school closures in spring 2020, educators rushed to make necessary adjustments and adapt coursework so students could successfully learn from home.

In one study of educators, 90% of responders said they believed various assessment-related changes emerged to meet students' needs in the wake of the pandemic. Of course, these changes didn't come without challenges. However, thanks to the data collected during this period, we've come to recognize several benefits to remote learning.

In particular, the data gathered in the spring of 2020 showed that inclusivity and flexibility significantly increased students' chances of success. Offering alternative learning methods, addressing inequality, and creating an accessible environment all revealed themselves as advantages of remote learning.

Moving Back to In-Person Courses

As overall vaccination rates increase in specific locations, some schools are returning to in-person courses. While resuming pre-pandemic teaching standards in hopes of regaining a sense of normalcy may be tempting, we now know some changes made during remote learning should remain as we transition back toward in-person instruction.

The flexibility from online learning gave students from different socioeconomic and minority backgrounds a greater chance of success. While the pandemic disproportionately affected these groups, the need for flexibility during this time has seemed to open instructors' eyes to continuing this practice beyond the confines of remote learning. The same is true of making a classroom more accessible to students and offering alternatives when necessary.

This flexibility shouldn't only be available for students, but also for faculty and instructors. Research demonstrates that allowing teachers more leeway with instructional techniques and student assessments makes the learning environment more efficient and centered more on a student's well-being than the results of their coursework. Studies show that students' feelings and attitudes directly correlate to how well they perform in an educational setting.

Creating an Inclusive Setting for Healthy Learning

All this research tells us the classroom environment is enormously influential in student development and success. While creating a positive climate for learning with wall art and other decor is an essential part of building a comfortable place to learn, institutions and instructors must also set specific standards and provide resources to ensure the classroom remains accessible to everyone.

Positive Classroom Environment Strategies

Students perform better on tests and assignments when they feel a sense of belonging, motivation, support, and participation. Their learning environment or classroom structure determines whether the educational setting meets their needs.

1. Look at the Data

Watermark's solutions collect all this information in one place, so you can maximize your evaluations

Institutions complete assessments to give you valuable information you should analyze and implement. Otherwise, this data collection is useless. Data can tell you whether students are benefiting from current institutional policies and educational practices, how teachers are managing their classrooms, or how the curriculum has evolved and what may need to change. Watermark's solutions collect all this information in one place, so you can maximize your evaluations.

2. Encourage Diversity and Inclusion

We all come from varied cultural backgrounds, and that should be cause for celebration. Encourage healthy, positive discussions about differences among students and allow an open floor for questions. Understanding is a crucial part of accepting people from diverse backgrounds. Also, understand that not everyone has the same learning style. Adopting new teaching strategies and offering an array of options can help your students feel more included.

Collected data have illustrated the benefits of maintaining an inclusive classroom environment more clearly than ever:

  • Students feel supported and heard.
  • Students are more motivated to learn, which, in turn, increases their overall productivity.
  • The educational experience is higher quality.
  • Students and faculty form stronger relationships.

3. Keep Things Accessible

As we've learned during the pandemic, an accessible learning environment is vital to fostering student success. Accessibility will mean something different for everyone. For some students, it means that they have wheelchair ramps available at every entrance or that they have a seat close to the instructor so they can see and hear everything. Other students value the flexibility to use multiple methods to complete assignments or tests.

Several aspects of remote learning are beneficial to students. The ability to complete school work from home, have deadlines extended, or receive an alternative assignment equal to the weight of the original, allowed students in various situations to still succeed in an otherwise stressful situation. Keeping these practices as we shift back to in-person learning will only help students feel more motivated and supported in the classroom.

4. Build Positive Relationships

Having someone to rely on can mean the world to so many students and can significantly influence how they perform academically. One of the ways you can build such a relationship with your students is to make sure they feel heard. Take the time to learn their names and get to know a little something about them. You should also listen to their complaints or struggles and try to do something about them, if possible. This compassion will help your students feel heard and seen.

Let Our Higher Education Software Solutions Serve You

Data collected over the years has helped institutions transform their curricula and educational policies to better suit their educators and students, increasing their overall success. Watermark's innovative data solutions can help you advance and develop student success. Let us help you organize your data so you can make meaningful improvements for your students and faculty.

If you have any questions or want to request a demo, you can get in touch today by filling out our simple contact form.

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