However, recently I have read several posts about the idea of ‘less is more’. Less on walls help students to focus and engage in learning. What a crazy concept I thought, but when faced with a recent study in Psychological Science (May, 2014) I started to re-consider my approach.
The study found that students taught in a highly decorated classroom, they were more distracted and scored lower on assessments than when they were taught in a room with bare walls. My BIG question here is, are test scores everything?
I decided to take this question to the members of my school community. When questioned, many parents in my school stated that they preferred to hear their child talk about their learning rather than see it displayed in a ‘pretty’ way on the wall. When I compared this to the students in my classroom, they thought the opposite, they generally liked the idea of having a colourful and busy classroom because it made them feel ‘positive and energised’.
In a classroom that is not ‘busy’ with wall displays, students get distracted by other students or even themselves, whereas in a well decorated classroom students are more lively to be distracted by the visual environment.
To me all of this information means nothing until put into context. Some classrooms I have taught in would benefit from less on the walls and some benefit from a colourful and bright learning environment.
The study also advised new teachers to be wary of “the shopping mall effect” in decorating their rooms. “When you go to a shopping mall, after about an hour and a half, it’s just too many people, too much visual stimulation, noise,” she said. “It can wear a person down.”
My advice to you ……. Know your learners and know what they need to succeed and then create your wall displays to suit. Don’t ‘buy’ into the advertisements selling you commercialised posters, instead get your students to create them based on their learning. Student voice is powerful and given a chance they will blow you away!
Maybe the ‘less is more’ idea is something that you can consider as you prepare for a new school term / school year over the next few weeks. I look forward to receiving your feedback here and via twitter as to what you do and why …