Date of Award

12-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)

Legacy Department

Landscape Architecture

Advisor

POWERS, MATTHEW N

Committee Member

MCCUBBIN , MARION E

Committee Member

FORD , DANIEL J

Abstract

There is a need for a restructuring the way that a child's learning environment is designed. Currently, the mainstream educational design process ignores the notion that children have different ways of learning. Furthermore, when there are so many distractions, how we successfully reach a child's mind has become a challenge. The current school system is structured in a manner that does not address the presence of these distractions, often causing overstimulation and inattentiveness. Designing for children should be approached in a way that all senses are engaged. Having opportunities for hands-on learning inside and outside of the classroom is important and how we design learning environments needs to be closely examined to see how these environments work as a system that fosters learning. Much research has been done on the effect that nature has on child development, but this research is often lost when it comes to calculating measurements of success within the public school system. Many schools are beginning to use gardens as a way to create direct connections with issues that are important such as sustainability, environmentalism, and global awareness. Including these issues in curriculum and the design of learning environments is an excellent way to expose children to issues that directly affect the society. Education is not a one-dimensional idea. There are many factors and variables that should be addressed when planning a comprehensive plan for a child's education. The design of a learning environment needs to be multi-participatory and include students, parents, teachers, administration, and any other outside support that has a connection directly or indirectly with a child's education. After extensive research in the form of observation; surveys of parents, students, teachers, and administration; and case studies of schools that are using alternative learning environments, this study presents design guidelines and strategies to be utilized within the learning environment design application.

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