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Overly-Decorated Classrooms Disrupt Student Learning, Study Finds

Overly-Decorated Classrooms Disrupt Student Learning, Study Finds

Could an overly-decorated classroom be disruptive to a student's learning?

A recent study by Carnegie Mellon University found that streamers, maps, posters, artwork, and other decorations lining the walls of classrooms "can end up disrupting attention and learning in young children," according to a recent news story posted on the university's website. Carnegie Mellon's researchers looked at "whether classroom displays affected children's abilities to maintain focus during instruction and learn the lesson content."

What they found was that "children in highly decorated classrooms were more distracted, spent more time off-task and demonstrated smaller learning gains than when the decorations were removed." The study placed 24 kindergarten students in laboratory classrooms for six science lessons, the article said. Three lessons were taught in a highly-decorated classroom, and the other lessons were taught in a "sparse classroom."

"The results showed that "while children learned in both classroom types, they learned more when the room was not heavily decorated," the article said. Students were found to be more accurate on test questions in the emptier classroom (55 percent) than in the decorated classroom (42 percent correct), results found.

"Young children spend a lot of time, usually the whole day, in the same classroom, and we have shown that a classroom's visual environment can affect how much children learn," said Anna V. Fisher, lead author and associate professor of psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. One question, the article asks, is whether or not teachers should take down their decorations after the study's findings.

"We do not suggest by any means that this is the answer to all educational problems. Furthermore, additional research is needed to know what effect the classroom visual environment has on children's attention and learning in real classrooms," Fisher said. "Therefore, I would suggest that instead of removing all decorations, teachers should consider whether some of their visual displays may be distracting to young children."

See the study's video below.

Read the full story. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, EducationWorld Contributor

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