TOPIC: ‘A Comparative case study of Classroom Environment of foreign and local students at Fiji National University Nadi Campus, Fiji Islands’ by Noleen Namarta
The classroom environment is a major contributing factor that can either enhance or reduce student performance. Several studies by scholars have also recognised the important role played by classroom environment in learning and teaching. Hence the literature review will critically examine such important aspects of classroom environment that differentiate classrooms of foreign and local students of FNU Nadi campus. The factors which will be outlined are arranging the classroom space, the desk placement methods, the environmental preferences of students such as lighting and temperature and also some crucial factors such as overcrowding in classrooms and noise level.
Arranging the classroom space:
To begin with, the arrangement of the classroom furniture is one of the differentiating factors in classroom environments. Studies by Linda Shalaway state that the classrooms physical layout reflects a teacher and his/her learning style (Shalaway: 2011). Classroom space includes the arrangement of furniture, classroom decoration and even student placement/ seating arrangement. In Reggio Emilia a town located in the north of Italy, its educators stress on the importance of classroom environment and consider it to be ‘another teacher’ (Shalaway: 2011). While Rivlin and Rothenberg (1976) found that teachers do not seem to know how to arrange the furniture. Therefore it is important for a teacher to design his/her classroom in such a way that it is able to cater for all the students needs. One such way outlined by Sturt is that we can arouse students’ interest by having interesting wall displays and exciting objects around to make a complex environment. Although it is sad to note that classroom decoration is given the least concern especially at tertiary level and it’s high time that it is given more importance now.
Desk placement methods:
Moreover, the arrangement of desk is one of the common and most influential factors of classroom environment. Studies reveal that some teachers prefer to seat students in U shaped settings so that they can make eye contact with every student (Shalaway: 2011). Another research done by Holley & Steiner, (2005) revealed that seating arrangements that allowed class members to see everyone such as sitting in a circle contributed to the creation of a safe space. In respect to my research, the seating arrangement of foreign students’ classroom is generally in a U shape that facilitates ease of mobility and group interaction. While the classroom of local students at FNU Nadi Campus, has desk arranged in single and double rows that mostly cater for independent work. Contrary to that, in the research carried by Holley & Steiner (2005) students had stated that row-style seating was a characteristic of an unsafe classroom. Thus the desk placement should be such that it allows group interaction but at same time is able to cater for independent work as well.
Moving on, there are certain environmental preferences that affect classroom environment. One of them is the amount of light or lighting in classroom either its natural light (sunlight) or artificial- such as light bulbs. “Light is one of the elements of the immediate environment that affects some students’ ability to learn” (Burke & Burke-Samide: 2004: 236). The writer also states that those who preferred bright light performed better when tested in brightly lit classrooms. While students who preferred dim lights performed better in dimly lit atmosphere. Therefore it is wise to have ample light that best suits the need of everyone. In my research the classrooms of foreign students are normally lit by artificial lighting while classrooms of local students usually use natural lighting. This shows...
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