Preference for a Learning Environment and Academic Performance of Students in a Selected College of Nursing

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Learning environment refers to the physical characteristics of the surroundings of the students when learning. These may vary depending on environmental elements such as sound, light, temperature, and design (Tenedero, 2009). Sound is the first element of the learning environment. Most students are contented with only one sound inside the classroom. This sound refers to the teacher’s voice - explaining the lesson, giving out instructions or assignments, or scolding a student or the entire class (Tenedero, 2009). Some learners prefer total silence or minimum sound because sound acts as a distraction to their effective learning (Senge, 2006). A study done by an American, named James Wallace (2008), mentioned that Filipino students prefer a quiet environment rather than having music or other sounds when studying. However, there are researches which showed that many students prefer to listen to a lecture or study on their own with some background music on because it makes them more receptive to learning (Tenedero, 2009). Light is the second element of the learning environment. Brighter lightings can reduce visual problems, fatigue, and posture problems and produce effective learning which helps improve students’ academic performance (Jensen, 2006). However, research also shows that there are many students who perform significantly better in low light environments because bright lights make them restless, fidgety, and hyperactive. Dimmed light environments calm down many learners and it makes them relax and think clearly (Prashnig, 2006). Temperature is another element that plays a key role in the learning environment. If a student is too cold or too hot, he will have a hard time concentrating on his learning tasks (Moore, 2007). There is research evidence that the brain functions well at lower temperatures instead of when they are overheated. Heat stress can lower the scores on the intellectual tasks of reasoning, thinking and decision making, and other physical tasks (London, 2006). Filipino students also prefer cool temperatures and believe that they do not perform well when it is warm (Wallace, 2008). However, other researchers stated that students benefit more from a warm environment. Some students prefer working in warm environments in order to keep awake and focus more on studying (Queen, 2007). Design is the last element that should be considered in a learning environment. Design could be formal or informal. In a traditional and formal setting, chairs and tables arranged in rows are used by students during classes; while in an informal setting, students are allowed to sit on the floor, couch, throw pillows or carpet. Every student also has a different preference when it comes to postural position. Some students learn best when sitting up straight in hard chairs (Moore, 2007). However, some learners prefer informal arrangements to avoid fatigue and discomfort. Also, some perform better in academics when they could arrange the seating to suit their preferences or choose where they sit (Bastable, 2008). As mentioned, a lot of studies have been conducted regarding the type of environment and its possible influences to learning performance. Most of the studies conducted, however, differ in the results. There were researchers who showed contradicting information regarding each element of the learning environment and its association with the grades of the students. With these established inadequacies and inaccuracies in the previous researches, there is certainly a need for further study to provide more clarification and verification of the existing theories related to the variables at hand.

Background of the Study
In a selected college of nursing, the researchers noticed that students have different preferred learning environments. However, the usual classroom set up doesn’t fully provide for this variability since the chairs are limited to a specific type, the lighting is...
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