EVERY student’s success is dependent on an accommodating, secure, challenging and academically robust learning environment. School administrators and indeed, teachers should at all times recognise the value of creating a positive environmental atmosphere.
A learning environment refers to a physical or non-physical conducive space where effective knowledge or information is passed across from one person to the other. Learning goes beyond mere absorption of a subject matter by a learner; they need an enriching and flexible learning environment to actualise their potentials to the fullest.
It should therefore be understood that the learning environment is a major factor which dictates a learner’s academic response, involvement in class activities, moral development, social relationship, character building and ultimately, their overall academic performance. A positive learning environment also has the possibility of enhancing a teacher’s cognitive, emotional and behavioural pattern.
Airing her views on creating conducive learning environment, Mrs Idigo Patricia, the proprietress of Mind of God Nursery and Primary School, Onitsha, said, “today’s learners seek a learning environment that is not as obsolete as the traditional classrooms but one that is specifically built to support thinking. They prefer the learning environment that pushes their learning capacity with altering strategies and teaching practices.
They want to be a part of an impactful learning setting that provides a sense of achievement while they can be adaptive and interactive with fellow learners as well as teachers. In brief, they want to be active and engage players throughout the learning course. For this, schools need to create some kind of conducive learning environment for these learners. There are some prime factors that are important in building an effective and positive learning environment.
One of such factors is addressing learners’ needs. Just like adults, children also have some psychological needs for order and security, love and belonging, competence and personal power, novelty and freedom and even fun. It is important to meet these needs at all times and to help pupils and students’ progress and be taught with a positive attitude. Any learning environment, where school authorities and teachers meet these intrinsic needs, children tend to be happier and more engaging. In this kind of environment too, there are less behavioural incidences than otherwise and this fulfilling learning atmosphere help children in developing the right learning attitude while establishing positive relationships with peers”.
“Another important factor to creating conducive learning environment is safety. A good learning environment offers a safe platform for learners. Before you can expect children to succeed academically, they should also feel safe both mentally and physically. While most of the schools take physical safety measures, not many learning platforms consider the mental safety of the learners. Safety in a learning environment goes beyond physical well-being.
In order to maintain a safe learning environment, learners must feel supported, welcomed, and respected. But many schools and their codes of conduct don’t always consider or support the positive climate. For instance, strict disciplinary practices like suspending a student at every slightest offence will negatively impact the morale of the learners and hamper their performance or likelihood of improvement. Hence, building a positive learning environment is more about maintaining a healthy culture where the expectations are well communicated and learners are fully aware of the code of conduct”.
“The third important factor in creating conducive learning environment is providing feedback. Feedback is the great way to connect with the children and to set their learning efforts in the right direction. It is vital for learners as it helps them in tracking their progress and in changing their learning strategy accordingly. It helps them recognisae their weak areas while improving the developed skills. A feedback informs the learners where they are missing the mark and what is needed to be done. A feedback is not only a key to motivate the learner but timely and consistent feedback ensures an interactive learning environment. It keeps learners involved and allows them to keep going while mounting a feeling of purpose and belonging.”
“In addition to feedback, another way to establish a positive and effective learning environment is to celebrate the learners’ success. This could be anything from a shout out to a big reward. When learners’ achievements are recognised and shared by the teachers and school management with other pupils and students, it creates a sense of achievement and fosters healthy learning behaviour. Teachers can easily take out some time on a termly, monthly or even weekly basis to recognise each student for any of his/her specific accomplishment. This could also be done in the form of group activities or collective assignments or projects. In addition to the celebration, it is also important to discuss the processes or strategies used by the learner to achieve the objective. This will also act as a guide for others to use the same learning strategy and to improve their performance in the same manner.”
Again, Mr Izunwanne Edwin, a primary school teacher said “a child’s development is directly linked to its ability to interact with its environment. Children develop an understanding of themselves through their interactions with events and materials outside themselves. All environments have the ability to contribute or retard this process. The motivation to interact with the environment exists in all children as an intrinsic property of life, but the quality of the interactions is dependent upon the possibilities for engagement that the environment provides.
Teachers can do a lot to encourage creativity in their classes but it’s a job only half done without the support of the school management. School administrators have the ability to build an expectation of creativity into schools learning and teaching strategies. They can encourage, recognise and reward creativity in both pupils and teachers. School managements should provide resources for creative endeavours, modern game facilities and play grounds. Teachers give their best when they work in a conducive environment, same way, pupils and students learn better when the environment is safe, friendly and harmonious.”