Extract 4: The Physical Learning Environment

This is the 4th and last extract from our latest book A Complete Guide to the Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training by Lynn Machin, Duncan Hindmarch, Sandra Murray and Tina Richardson. Let us know what you think!

Creating an inclusive learning environment requires that you consider the physical classroom environment. You should consider where you will seat the learners and how you will ensure that they mix effectively with each other. You need to consider how you will avoid quieter learners being excluded and avoid the dominance of social cliques in the classroom.

You must make it clear to the learners that you are the manager of the learning environment, and you should do this as soon as possible. Cowley ( 2010 ) suggests that this should be done in the first lesson. Don’t give the learners the chance to settle into their own groups. As soon as learners enter the classroom tell them where you want them to sit and make it clear that you will be mixing them throughout the course. They will join the class not knowing what to expect. But if you leave it until halfway through the term the learners will challenge your reasons for moving them and may even refuse to move.

Question

What other reasons can you think of for varying the seating arrangements?

Answer
You might have considered some of the following:

  • to encourage discussion and teamwork and develop their interpersonal skills;
  • to encourage peer learning – by varying the seating, learners will work with a wide range of peers rather than just their usual social group;
  • to accommodate different personalities – you might want to avoid having two strong personalities in the same group;
  • to provide stretch and challenge – you might put a more able learner with a less  able one and encourage peer teaching.
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