Transformation of classroom spaces: traditional versus active learning classroom in colleges

Abstract

Educational environment influences students’ learning attitudes, and the classroom conveys the educational philosophy. The traditional college classroom design is based on the educational space that first appeared in medieval universities. Since then classrooms have not changed except in their size. In an attempt to develop a different perspective of educational environment, a new design of classroom, the active learning classroom (ALC), was established at SoongSil University in Korea. Two questionnaire surveys were conducted for diagnosing the educational effects of students’ learning in the ALC and comparing the results with those obtained regarding the traditional classroom. The result proved the existence of a ‘golden zone’ and a ‘shadow zone’ in the traditional classroom, which discriminate students’ learning experiences depending on seating positions. On the contrary, the ALC did not produce such positional discrimination. Students perceived the ALC environment as more inspirational, especially in regards to active class participation. Students with more emphasis on academic achievement showed greater tendency to share information and to create new ideas in the ALC. However, in the traditional classroom setting, only students with high GPAs were more motivated to learn while the gap in learning attitudes was offset in the ALC setting. In-depth discussions about research findings were undertaken and four suggestions were provided in support of school administrators and relevant institutional personnel, faculty members, and researchers for future utilization of the ALC.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Laurentius_de_Voltolina_001.jpg.

  2. 2.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lecture.

  3. 3.

    Also known as ‘Taylorism,’ ‘Scientific Management’ was popular in the business field during the industrial period as a way to increase the organizational effectiveness in management. During the early twentieth century, this principle was adopted to educational sector in order to eliminate waste in space, time, motion, budgets, and finance and to generate the effective administration of schools.

  4. 4.

    http://encykorea.aks.ac.kr/Contents/Index.

  5. 5.

    http://www.ncsu.edu/per/scaleup.html.

  6. 6.

    http://www.clemson.edu/academics/programs/scale-up.html.

  7. 7.

    The Brain Korea 21 (BK 21) Project was started in 1999 and ran until 2012. Its goal was to improve research capacities in Korean universities. Since its inception, BK 21 has provided approximately U.S. $290 billion to selected master and Ph.D. programs and research centers in different universities (Lee 2012).

  8. 8.

    The university Education Capacity Building Project was initiated to provide governmental funds to promote the quality of education at Korean colleges and universities. In 2008, the project’ first year, U.S. $46 million was provided to 64 universities. So far, about U.S. $918 million has been spent on the development of university education (88 universities received U.S. $243 million in 2009, 88 universities received U.S. $238 million in 2010, 80 universities received U.S. $222 million in 2011, and 97 universities received U.S.$167 million in 2012) (Park 2010; Korean Ministry of Education 2011; Korean Ministry of Education and Korean Council for University Education 2012a).

  9. 9.

    The Advancement of College Education (ACE) Project, initiated in 2010, is the Korean government’s most generous funding program ever. It also focuses on developing excellence in higher education. So far, 25 four-year national and private universities have been selected for funding and have received U.S. $138.5 million (11 universities with U.S. $ 27.7 million in 2010; in 2011, 11 new universities and the original 11 universities received about U.S. $55.4 million; in 2012, 3 more universities were added and an additional U.S. $55.4 million was awarded to all of the participating institutions) (Park 2010; Korean Ministry of Education 2011; Korean Council for University Education 2012b).

  10. 10.

    The insignificant level of the multivariate test for homogeneity of dispersion matrices (Box M = 3.86, p = 0.3) dispelled any concern that the variances in ALC and traditional classroom groups might not be equal. Thus, application of MANOVA was accepted.

  11. 11.

    As one of the MANOVA results (Wilks’ s λ = .94, p = 0.1) was not statistically significant at 0.05 level, there was no omnibus difference for sharing and creating ideas between the two classrooms. However, the result of the following independent t test was significant in ALC (F(1.76) = 4.85, p = 0.03), which indicated that students with higher EAA (M = 4.31) perceived ALC with significantly higher regard than the lower EAA (M = 4.05) group. The group who answered 3 (moderate, middle) were excluded for statistical purposes, which renders a clearer division of students’ propensities.

  12. 12.

    The insignificance level of the multivariate test for homogeneity of dispersion matrices (Box M = 1.38, p = 0.72) dispelled any concern that the variances in ALC and traditional classroom groups might not be equal. Thus, application of MANOVA was accepted.

  13. 13.

    As one of the MANOVA results (Wilks’ s λ = .95, p = 0.04) was statistically significant at 0.05 level, there were omnibus differences for students’ learning attitudes between the two classroom settings. In addition, the results of the following independent t-tests were significant in traditional classroom (F(1,126) = 6.54, p = 0.01), which means that students with high GPAs (M = 3.08) showed significantly better learning attitudes than students with middle GPAs (M = 2.8) in traditional classroom. Student GPAs were grouped into two clusters, ‘middle’ and ‘high’ for MANOVA test since the low GPAs were only marked by two students, which is not meaningful for statistical test.

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Correspondence to Elisa L. Park.

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Park, E.L., Choi, B.K. Transformation of classroom spaces: traditional versus active learning classroom in colleges. High Educ 68, 749–771 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-014-9742-0

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Keywords

  • Classroom design
  • Active learning classroom
  • Classroom effect
  • Higher education