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Accelerated Learning: Create a Positive Learning Environment

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Positive Emotions Accelerate Learning. Create A Positive Environment And The Learning Sticks!

Creating a positive learning environment is a small investment that can have a tremendous impact on learning. It sets the tone for learning, and influences the way we learn throughout the experience. The environment includes the obvious physical space, such as the room and the tools, but it also includes the emotional space created by people in the room.

If the environment is restrictive or dull, the learning becomes arduous regardless of how well it is designed or presented. For example, think about the last time you were in a class that was too warm or where you were ridiculed for asking questions. It probably didn’t matter how good the rest of the class was, you probably didn’t learn as much as you could have.

Conversely, if the environment is inviting and energetic, it makes the learning experience much more pleasant, and thus you learn more. For example, think of a class experience when the facilitator brought breakfast or when you felt comfortable with the other learners in your group. You were certainly more open to learning in that experience. Isn’t this the kind of experience we want to create for your learners? If you gain awareness of the factors that contribute to a positive learning environment, you can build the right environment to encourage this kind of experience with relatively little additional effort.

The facilitator has a considerable influence over the formation of a positive learning environment. The most obvious factors are those in the physical space. The physical space is everything the participants see, hear, touch, taste or smell. Every one of these senses has an effect on learning, even if we are not personally aware of that effect. Consider the room, the room arrangement, and the room decoration. Consider the chairs and the way they are arranged. Consider the sights, sounds and smells. Consider the learning materials. The facilitator can usually manipulate all of these factors to produce a physical environment more conducive to learning.

The emotional space can be even more important than the physical space. The learning environment should respect the learners, and learners should feel free to learn and explore within that environment. Consider the activities and the flow of the experience. Are the learners allowed to grow at their own pace, or are they forced to move to quickly, which might cause resistance?

Consider the group dynamics and culture. Are learners encouraged to support each other? Do they listen to each other or interrupt each other? The facilitator creates an environment where everyone gets heard, gets to learn their way, gets to share what they learned and gets to speak freely. A large part of the environment, however, is created by the learners themselves.

Case Study Example – Environment

Marian Diamond of UC Berkeley placed rats in a super-stimulating environment, complete with swings, ladders, treadmills, toys of all kinds – and other rats. Other rats were housed in bare cages, alone, and devoid of stimuli.

The rats in the high-stimulus environment lived longer, surprisingly surviving until the age of three – the rat equivalent of 90 years for a human. And, at the same time, their brains increased in size, sprouting forests of brain cell connections. They grew more brain! The rats that lived in bare cages stagnated and died younger. Their brains had fewer cellular connections.
More research and evidence is discovered daily that humans respond the same way. High stimulus environments create more brain cell connections and lead to longer and often fuller lives.

Key Points To Remember

- Emotions cause recall and retention
- Fun and laughter cause the release of endorphins which help store learning
- Positive emotions accelerate learning
- Negative emotions inhibit learning
- Visuals, music, activity, engagement all create the learning environment

How To Learn More About Accelerated Learning:

Read this article about the 7 principles of accelerated learning.
Read this article that describes how learning occurs on many levels simulaneously.
Learn2’s Accelerate Learning program is ideal for training groups of facilitators.
This summer we’re offering limited seating for individuals to attend a special certificate program: Accelerate & Ensure Learning.

 

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