Undergraduate Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 4-9-2014

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr, Mike Atkinson

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to investigate how a classroom’s design can alter an

individual’s memory of content and affective reactions towards the experience. 123 University of

Western Ontario Undergraduate students who were part of a first year psychology participation

pool listened to a video lecture on schizophrenia and then completed two paper and pencil

questionnaires. The first was a multiple-choice assessment of participant memory for lecture

material, and the second was a Likert scale on the perceived learning experience. The

atmosphere of the classroom as well as the design of the desk arrangements was changed for

different conditions as to determine which aspects of the classrooms design had a significant

influence on recall for material and perceived learning experience. Previous studies have found

that the environment in which learning takes place can have a great effect on student

performance as well as on their affective reactions to the experience, teacher, material presented,

and institution as a whole (Veltri, Banning, & Davies, 2006; Winterbottom & Wilkins, 2009). A

significant interaction between atmosphere and desk design was found for specific affective

reactions, which is consistent with recent research. Contrary to recent research, main effects for

atmosphere and affective reactions were found for participants in sterile and row arrangements,

compared to warm horseshoe arrangements previously noted in literature. The results suggest

that classroom design is a crucial aspect for student performance as well as affective reactions,

but that at the University level, small format lectures may not follow trends seen in other

educational settings.

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