Student-Centred Classroom Environments in Upper Secondary School: Students’ Ideas About Good Spaces for Learning Versus Actual Arrangements

  • Anna Kristín Sigurðardóttir


The aims of this chapter are to shed light on upper secondary school students’ ideas about good spaces for learning and to explore how the actual arrangement of the physical learning environment fits with these ideas. Data were collected in nine schools in Iceland through classroom observations and group interviews with students using the diamond ranking method. Pictures were used to learn about students’ attitudes about good and bad places for learning. The data were reviewed in the context of theories on student-centred learning. The results indicated that the physical environment in upper secondary school classrooms was rather traditional, with students sitting at individual tables in rows and the teacher positioned in the front of the room. The students seemed to acknowledge this arrangement, as they know it best. It was also most often ranked somewhere in the middle of the diamond. They especially liked arrangements that allowed them some flexibility or which enabled them to influence the environment, which was not very common to these schools. Most lessons were characterised according to the teacher-centred approach.



This research project received grants from the University of Iceland Research Fund 2013–2015 and from the NordForsk-funded Nordic Centre of Excellence: Justice through Education in the Nordic Countries 2013–2018. We extend our special thanks to the upper secondary schools that provided us with access to data.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of IcelandReykjavíkIceland

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