A flexible classroomempowers students. is highly engaging. promotes collaboration.

Flexible Learning and Student Engagement

It is no secret that many students today are disengaged in the classroom. Many describe the content as ‘uninteresting’ or ‘unnecessary’ and the classroom as ‘boring’ and ‘bland’. While many parents and teachers would blame the lack of engagement in the classroom on laziness or the students themselves, a big factor in getting students involved in class has to do with the learning environment and not having the type of learning that suits the student and their needs in order succeed. In fact, in an annual survey by Indiana University's High School Survey of Student Engagement, it was reported that in more than 81,000 students and 110 high schools in 26 states, "about 30% of students were bored in school due to lack of interaction." In the same survey "more than 80 percent rated classroom discussion and debate at least 'a little' and sometimes 'very' exciting and engaging, and more than 70 percent felt this way about group projects." This shows that what the majority of disengaged students need is a more inclusive, interactive, and personalized learning experience. As a solution, teachers can introduce more flexible seating and personalized learning into the classroom, and will see a major improvement in a student’s engagement with the class.

According to edutopia.com, “flexible classrooms give students a choice in what kind of learning space works best for them, and help them to work collaboratively, communicate, and engage in critical thinking.” Flexible classrooms include flexible seating, which gives students control over the most comfortable and best place to work efficiently. Flexibility is important when it comes to a student's learning experience because when students are comfortable in their learning environment, they express more positive behaviors towards learning and being more on task. With so many options to choose from, students feel a sense of ownership and are inspired to take responsibility of their learning and find what works for them.

How flexible a classroom is can affect a student's ability to learn. A study, published in the journal Building and the Environment, found that classroom design had a 25% impact, positive or negative, on a student’s progress over the course of a school year. In a study conducted with 751 students in 34 classrooms, spread across seven schools in England, faculty from the University of Salford School of the Built Environment ranked each classroom on a 1 to 5 scale for 10 different design points, one of them being flexibility. Flexibility took into consideration how well a given classroom could hold pupils without crowding them, in addition to how easily its furniture could be rearranged for activities. The study found that six of the design points, had a significant effect on learning. One had to do with the quality of the furniture in the classroom, as well as providing “interesting” tables and chairs for pupils. With a flexible classroom, students can make more decisions about how they work and learn.

On the other hand, personalized learning gives students a chance to learn content based on their needs and how they like to learn. Not every student learns the same way; when children do not get the type of learning needed for them, they become disengaged. For example, some children understand the work easily and do not need assistance, while others need more guidance. A teacher could help every child in the classroom by using personalized learning. Allowing students to have more freedom in projects (such as their work strategy, what they choose to talk about, and where they sit) can help each student better succeed because they are able to choose what's best for them, and can show what they learned in a unique way.

Both personalized learning and flexible classrooms can help students be more engaged with others at school. Students who are disengaged in the classroom because of lacking the extra help they need become more engaged and enthusiastic in the classroom when introduced to flexible and personalized learning. These kinds of benefits led governments in Australia to agree to reach the target of young people completing 12th grade from 83.5% in 2009 to 90% in 2015. Flexible classrooms can also help with collaboration with peers; when students are comfortable they are more likely to work with others. Giving students choices encourages independence and keeps students engaged. Students are still accountable for completing activities on time, but they choose when or how they will work.

In conclusion, personalized and flexible learning has proven to be beneficial to a student's growth at school. Students are able to work better, be more focused, and more importantly, participate more in class. It is important that children have a learning environment that fits brains of all preferences.