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Title: Do Affordances of Classroom Furniture Affect Learning in Undergraduate Active-Learning Courses?
Authors: Rau, Martina
Moore, John
Burstyn, Judith
Keywords: Design
Issue Date: Jun-2020
Publisher: International Society of the Learning Sciences (ISLS)
Citation: Rau, M., Moore, J., & Burstyn, J. (2020). Do Affordances of Classroom Furniture Affect Learning in Undergraduate Active-Learning Courses?. In Gresalfi, M. and Horn, I. S. (Eds.), The Interdisciplinarity of the Learning Sciences, 14th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2020, Volume 2 (pp. 967-974). Nashville, Tennessee: International Society of the Learning Sciences.
Abstract: Undergraduate education is moving from traditional, lecture-centric instruction toward approaches that reduce lectures and increase collaborative activities. Yet, many institutions do not have enough classrooms outfitted with furniture that provides ideal support for collaborative interactions over shared course materials. Consequently, many instructors teach in classrooms with furniture that may not afford effective collaboration. Does classroom furniture affect undergraduate students’ learning from courses that utilize active-learning approaches? We explored this question in three undergraduate chemistry courses that placed a focus on collaboration with shared physical and virtual resources. 2,651 students in 136 sections were taught in classrooms with different furniture: traditional tables, traditional chairs, group chairs with or without wheels, and group tables with monitors. We found that low-performing students had significantly higher course grades if their classroom had group tables or flexible chairs. Further, a survey with teaching assistants revealed how teaching strategies may compensate for suboptimal classroom furniture.
Appears in Collections:ICLS 2020

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