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ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012

The Impact of Brain Compatible Learning a facility actually makes a difference in teacher instruction and student achievement (Hardman, 2009), and, if so, in what ways? The phenomenon covered in this study addresses how a particular learning theory, brain- compatible learning (BCL), was applied in the design of three elementary schools with similar demographics and if the design was perceived to have made a difference in student achievement. The researchers reviewed current literature on BCL, reviewed the specific design and learning philosophy applied to all three campuses, and conducted on-site observations and interviews with key building staff. The research team included a practicing professional architect/professor of educational administration, a college professor in educational administration, and a doctoral student in educational administration. All three researchers were interested in school design and the effects of design on student and teacher engagement, learning, and instruction. The study would hopefully serve to connect existing research with practice. The Box We Call School ³If we are to improve it school, we must understand it. If we are to improve schooling, we must improve individual schools´ (John Goodlad, 1984, p. xvi). Some 27 years ago, John Goodlad in conjunction with members of the Institute for Development of Educational Activities, Inc., formerly a division of the Charles F. Kettering Foundation provided us results of a study focused on just what makes an effective school. Goodlad’s (1984) conclusion was that the one-size fits all approach to schooling is not effective. Instead, more importantly we should be looking at how all elements (staff, leadership, parents, community, resources, and environment) work together in an individual school (Goodlad, 1984). Therefore, an important first step in this study was getting acquainted with all the particulars of each school site. From personal experience over the years, the researchers found consistency in teacher and administrator comments regarding new and refurbished school facility designing. Basically, facility construction begins with excitement and often ends with compromised acceptance by its benefactors. One needs to remember how excited everyone (children, parents, teachers, community) are when facility designs and blue prints first appear. Anticipation of a new school and all it has to offer by way of change and renewal is greeted with enthusiasm. However, there is often disappointment when the final project emerges after months of tweaks, cutbacks in budget, or administrator modifications. At every level of education, the physical environment appears to be an important factor to consider when educating students and engaging the community it serves. There seems to be “. . . clear evidence that extremes of environmental elements have negative effects on students and teacher” (Higgins, Hall, Wall, Woolner, & McCaughey, 2005, p. 6). Unfortunately, one of the predictors of a quality school facility is the environment and its effect on those who work and learn within it (Earthman & Lemasters, 2011; Hanrahan, 1998; Lippman, 2010; Oliver & Lippman, 2007). Earthman and Lemasters (2011) suggested that the building condition influences the attitudes of parents, students, and teachers and the “resultant attitudes students have about the school building influence to a certain extent their achievement” (p. 22.) On May 22, 2011, one of the most shattering disasters took place in Joplin, Missouri. A tornado ripped through the heart of Joplin destroying or damaging 10 of the 19 buildings in the school district and left half of its 7,700 students without a school to return to on May 23rd. With Superintendent C. J. Huff at the helm, the devastating experience became an opportunity for December 2012 / ACEF 40


ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012
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