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Types of Learning Environments

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  • 0:04 Learning Environments
  • 0:39 Learner-Centered Environments
  • 1:06 Knowledge-Centered…
  • 1:57 Assessment-Centered…
  • 2:36 Community-Centered…
  • 3:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Frank Clint

Frank has been an educator for over 10 years. He has a doctorate degree in education with a concentration in curriculum and instruction.

What is your classroom environment like? Maybe you closely monitor students' needs or focus on students gaining deep understanding. Perhaps you know the need for a sense of community or authentic assessments. Let's explore four types of learning environments.

Learning Environments

Think about the classrooms you experienced as a student. Maybe you remember sitting and listening as the teacher did most of the talking, or maybe you and your peers were challenged with problem-solving activities. Perhaps your tests were all rote memorization of the learned information, or maybe you kept a portfolio of your work that your teacher assessed with one-on-one feedback.

Learning environments vary from classroom to classroom and context to context. There are four types of learning environments, each with unique elements. Learning environments can be student- or learner-centered; knowledge-centered; assessment-centered; and community-centered.

Learner-Centered Environments

Learner-centered environments pay close attention to the needs of the student. Students bring culture, beliefs, attitudes, skills, and knowledge to the learning environment. A learner-centered teacher builds on the conceptual and cultural knowledge of each student. The classroom is often involved in discussion, where the students do much of the talking and construct their own meaning based on prior knowledge and experiences. The teacher acts as a bridge between new learning and what students already know.

Teachers are rarely the center of attention in learner-centered classrooms.
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Knowledge-Centered Environments

Knowledge-centered environments focus on helping students learn information with deep understanding so students can use it in new situations and contexts. Teachers who believe in knowledge-centered classrooms believe rote memorization does not lead to true understanding and only helps students learn at the surface. Deep learning involves learning through problem-solving.

An example of this type of learning environment is one where a teacher directly teaches a concept, such as how to find area and perimeter. The teacher would then take this concept one step further, connecting this new knowledge to a real-life scenario. Maybe the school needs new tile floors. The students would actually measure the area and perimeter of the classroom and the hallway, using the measurements to calculate how much tile would need to be ordered. This would give them the understanding that these new math skills are used in real jobs, such as installing tile.

Students need to transfer skills to real-life situations, such as installing flooring in a room using correct mathematical measurements.
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Assessment-Centered Environments

To be effective, learning environments must also be assessment-centered, which stress the importance of feedback to learning. Students need opportunities to get feedback so they can revise their work. Assessments must match learning goals. Formative, or classroom assessment, used to improve teaching and learning, is a constant source of feedback throughout the context of a course. Examples include teacher comments on work and quick checks for understanding in the classroom. Summative, or end-of-unit or course assessment, measures what students have learned by the end of a period of learning activities. Examples include state-wide assessment tests and teacher-made end-of-unit exams.

A teacher implements a formative assessment during small group intervention.
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