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By : Henry Sanoff

The aim of this paper was to examine current learning styles and teaching methods in order to suggest a new form of learning environment for young students. Features such as different activity settings and small group activities aimed at enhancing learning resulted from the participation of students, teachers and parents in the design of the Gibsonville Elementary School. Teachers, working in small groups, compared different classroom arrangements along with criteria to compare and evaluate each alternative and unanimously selected an "L" shape classroom, which became the basis for the design of the school. Another critical design feature that emerged from the teacher workshop was direct access from each classroom to the outdoors, allowing teachers to create outdoor classrooms that could enhance student's ecological awareness. The final design featured four academic houses of six L shaped classrooms each around an open courtyard to provide a resource for students, parents, and teachers to collectively explore and maintain outdoor environmental themes. A post occupancy evaluation was conducted several months after completion of construction and revealed a high level of satisfaction; however, the findings pointed to the need for a subsequent workshop to focus on the effective arrangement of furniture in L shaped classrooms. The participatory process was identified by the students and teachers as the key factor contributing to the design, which of one of the first schools of its type in the United States.
Keywords : Design Research, L Shaped Classroom, Participation, Post Occupancy Evaluation, Schools, Workshop.

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