Analysis of Kathleen G. Scholl and Gowri Betrabet Gulwadi’s “Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces”
In their essay, “Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces,” Kathleen G. Scholl and Gowri Betrabet Gulwadi identify a unique, twenty-first century challenge many college campuses face around the U.S. Highlighting the gradual decline of natural, green spaces on college campuses, Scholl and Gulwadi introduce the idea that open, green spaces are reflective of the quality of academic life on campus, emphasizing their value as beneficial tools for students. The authors argue that college campuses should reflect the holistic nature of learning, claiming that the green spaces and natural landscape of a college campus are educational resources that can assist in restoring cognitive attention for students.
While college campuses frequently boast about state-of-the-art facilities and indoor technologies students can take advantage of, Scholl and Gulwadi note that designated, indoor learning environments are many times banal and lack the holistic qualities found within nature. As “one fifth of a student’s time is spent in the classroom, contributing about one quarter of the total learning variance” (Scholl & Gulwadi), Scholl and Gulwadi propose that an increased diversity of learning spaces can assist stressed and anxious students who are constantly strained by copious amounts of work. Counting their argument, Scholl and Gulwadi claim that indoor classrooms are designed to be perceived as dull in order to keep students focused, recognizing the limits a traditional, indoor classroom environment can create for students. This aspect of their argument works to support their claim that green spaces offer a unique change of environment for students, noting how the natural landscape of college campuses, “can help enable and enhance a sense of being away and thereby lead to attention restoration” (Scholl & Gulwadi). This quote adds significance to their argument, as it highlights the fact that learning is a dynamic process, requiring a holistic approach to create learning environments that keep students engaged and focused. Understanding college campuses through this type of viewpoint helps readers regard college campuses as attentional resources, adding to Scholl and Gulwadi’s message of non-traditional, green spaces as valuable, educational resources that can work to restore cognitive attention for students.
Traditional, indoor learning environments work to enable productive learning experiences, though many times causing an imbalance for students, as Scholl and Gulwadi highlight the importance of non-structured, green spaces on college campuses. The cognitive benefits embedded in the mix of both structured and non-structured learning environments provide a healthy environment for students, fostering an environment where different types of students, who learn in different kinds of ways, can thrive. Though outdoor learning is not appropriate for all types of academic domains, the natural landscape and green spaces of a college campus serve as educational resources that can assist in restoring cognitive attention for students.
The traditional, indoor classroom
The unstructured, outdoor space
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