Rethinking the Classroom: Spaces Designed for Active and Engaged Learning and Teaching

Different furniture configuration results in varied settings. <>

Individual Chair does not allow for open collaboration in this case.

Individual Chair does not allow for open collaboration in this case.

Article Summary:

  • Students are more likely to retain information in collaborative settings by learning themselves or teaching their peers.
  • The relationship between the teacher and student becomes less formal and more open, and an overall better relationship. The student feels more comfortable in this learning environment.
  • Need to have students apply what they are learning to their daily lives.


Cal Poly Fish Bowl Observations:

20150105_150502 20150105_150506

  • Only table we didn’t use had no wheels
    • Difficult to use
    • Didn’t fit with other 3 tables
    • Had individual desk but did not use it – unsuitable for activity
    • Tables form hole for plugs in floor
    • Hole in center of tables for computer cords
  • Rolling Chairs – easier convenience for moving around and interaction
  • Instead of using the whiteboard walls to collaborate ideas (because we didn’t have a marker) we used online collaboration to write notes rather than physical/written collaboration of ideas
    • Not all group members were able to be part of this collaboration because of technology difficulties
  • TV is on but not in use
    • Plug is not compatible with all laptops
  • Fishbowl walls
    • All the panels that make up the walls can be used to write on, making it a convenient, collaborative environment
      • we communicated with other people in neighboring “fishbowls” to see who had markers to write on the walls with
    • 2 walls can be seen through, so when in the fishbowl you are not completely cut from the rest of the library
      • Allows for some interaction with the outside


    • The walls do not completely go up to ceiling completely
      • allow light, sounds, smells in
    • Walls have accessible plugs all around for people to charge
    • Electrical outlets are mostly around the perimeter of the room, but our laptops are all in the center of the room, so the charging cords have to pass between our seats
      • limits how furniture can roll once computers are plugged in
      • only outlet in the middle of the room has two plugs
  • Multiple functions
    • White board and TV allows for presentation
    • Tables allow for collaborative efforts

20150105_150426 Ways of Improving Collaboration:

  • Better Projection/TV to connect the computers to the group
  • Markers/Pens for Writing
  • Possible Smart Table for multiple people to use, instead of just one screen
Furniture Examples:

These collaboration pods can be pushed together or pulled farther apart to create spaces for small or large groups. <>

Desks arranged in groups allow for collaboration to happen, and the teacher can communicate with the students more effectively in a one on one in situation, instead of 28 to one. < >

Small groups allow student to collaborate and help each other better understand the material being taught. <>

Wheeled furniture and partitions can be moved wherever the occupants need them. <>

This lecture hall is reminiscent of a restaurant because everyone is sitting in groups around one table where they can talk to each other. <>

Children at this table can easily collaborate and decide together how to use their Legos. <>

Small study nooks separate from the main walkways allow for students to focus, but still open enough to not be isolated; the beanbag chairs can be adjusted for students’ comforts and needs. <>

Open space allows the teacher to move around the room easily and better assist students. <>

Large screen that many can access/ collaborate with. <>