The Positive Learning Effect of a Well-Designed College Campus
In “Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces”, the authors Kathleen G Scholl and Gowri Betrabet Gulwadi argue that the physical environment and layout of a college campus can have a positive or negative effect on the academic performance of a college student. The article advocates the necessity of having well-designed indoor and outdoor spaces on campus since it promotes a sense of wanting to be on campus as well as being a part of a community. The authors dispute that students should be taking advantage of natural outdoor environments around them, since it is an instinctive learning experience that differs from the classroom. Learning occurs everywhere, not just inside a classroom, therefore Scholl and Gulwadi claim that a well-designed natural space encourages student productivity and learning.
Since the argument is that the natural environment of a college campus affects student productivity and learning, the emphasis is put on the definition of the word “natural”. The definition of nature and a natural environment can be argued to be several different things. Scholl and Gulwadi choose to define nature as the physical and natural environment that it describes, such as plants, water, air, animals (Scholl and Gulwadi, 2015). The article alleges that the student relationship with this natural environment correlates with the student’s ability to maintain focus and attention. Scholl and Gulwadi state that, “after a period of prolonged cognitive demands and mental saturation, difficulties in concentrating, reduced performance on tasks, higher rates of irritability and tension, and more impulsive and hostile behavior may arise” (Scholl and Gulwadi, 2015), which shows that students are affected negatively by spending the majority of their time in small spaced classrooms and stuffy indoor dorm rooms. College campuses need to incorporate features that aren’t constrictive in order to ensure a healthy and effective lifestyle for college students.
College campuses are not something to be overlooked, Scholl and Gulwadi emphasize, as the article disputes that a natural environment and scenery exercise the mind, and can have a refreshing effect for a stressed out student. This is called the Attention Restoration Theory, which says that exposure and interaction with nature can actually have a recovery effect on the human attentional system (Kaplan & Kaplan, 1989). Since attention is required from college students in order to process multiple sources of information for their different classes, it is important for students to be able to focus. Nature provides an opportunity for interactions that don’t fatigue the mind and can give students a break from stressful schoolwork, a similar effect to taking a vacation to destress.
Concluding the article, Scholl and Gulawdi summarize that the design techniques of college campuses need to take into consideration the importance of nature. Open space is very important to making sure college students have room to breathe and can function effectively in a learning environment. Learning experiences are created by having a diverse combination of indoor campus spaces and a natural outdoor environment, since students are able to focus and also have healthy student interactions, as well as be able to “escape” from the stuffy campus areas. A well-designed campus that incorporates plenty of green space can help students gain better attention skills as well as allowing to them to take a needed break by giving them a natural environment to focus on.
Scholl, Kathleen G., and Gowri Betrabet Gulwadi. “Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces | Scholl | Journal of Learning Spaces.”Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces | Scholl | Journal of Learning Spaces. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2016.