According to School Planning & Management/College Planning & Management Magazine, the proper selection of school furniture and equipment plays an important role in creating an effective, high performance learning environment.
As outlined in SP&M/CP&M's 2012 Annual Construction Report, the demand for school space and improved facilities has not lessened, but the consequence of the 2008 recession, combined with the anti-tax sentiment has resulted in significantly decreased spending for new school construction.
The trend has turned to upgrading and renovating older buildings instead of building entirely new facilities. In some cases, this means reusing some of the existing furniture and equipment. But in some instances, new furniture is being used to turn an old static space into an interactive, collaborative learning environment.
Here are some of the factors currently given top priority when it comes to considering the upgrade of furniture and equipment in the classroom.
- Ergonomics (Human Factors) — At its simplest, ergonomics literally means the science of work. It has long been a key criterion in creating learning environments that keep students focused and comfortable. In the past, it was thought that too much body movement resulted in the loss of focus. Studies now show that providing flexibility or rocking features within the furniture supports the body's natural inclination to shift and vary postures. NOVA has been a proponent of good ergonomics for many years. Our Downview product has proved to be ergonomically beneficial — and with the advent of our new widescreen solution, remains a viable ergonomic alternative to standard desktop placement of computer monitors.
- Form and Function — Many education programs provide real-world learning environments meant to mimic the professional or technical workplace. Hands-on classrooms are used to help students develop the practical skills needed for technical or clinical career paths. A student role-playing in a clinical situation optimally should have furniture and equipment that is similar to what they will be using post-graduation. Conference rooms and meeting spaces can help students become comfortable with the corporate world. NOVA's complete line of corporate furniture is well suited for any business environment and is adaptable to most any type of work activity.
- Student Comfort — With a wide range of ages and body types, furniture must have flexibility to adapt to different bodies as well as different ideas of comfort. In a recent CNN report, it was stated that more than one-third of children and teens are overweight or obese and proving too large to fit into traditional school desks. With adjustable tables and chairs, students are able to exercise some control over their environment. NOVA also offers adjustable height lecterns for instructor comfort as well as adjustable and fixed height ADA desks and tables.
- Flexibility to Accommodate Different Teaching and Learning Styles — As new teaching pedagogies emerge and classrooms become more dynamic, furniture needs to respond. Furniture should be easily reconfigured to support a variety of group sizes, enabling interaction and collaboration. NOVA's line of collaboration tables provide a variety of configurations for group learning with technology enhancements built right in.
In tough economic times, renovating a facility might not be an option, but using furniture to re-purpose, remodel, and recreate classroom space is.
NOVA provides a variety of options for all learning and working environments with or without technology options for all levels of learning, all types of students, and all kinds of teaching styles.
Source: Adapted from School Planning & Management/College Planning & Management Magazine's Quick Facts series, #103, prepared by Deb Moore.