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ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012

The Impact of Brain Compatible Learning quality from teachers using these facilities. Appraisal criteria are categorized into six areas: the school site; structural and mechanical features; plant maintainability; school building safety and security; educational adequacy; and environment for education. Scores from all three-school sites fell within acceptable to exemplary range with Have-It-all Elementary School receiving the highest scores and Over-The-Hill Elementary the lowest. In the second phase of the study, extensive time was spent observing classrooms, visiting the school sites, and conducting interviews. Interviews were held with the principals at these facilities as well as 20 randomly selected teachers to determine their awareness of BCL tenets and relationship to the physical environment (Hawkins & Lilley, 1998). The 20 teachers from the three school sites voluntarily agreed to be interviewed and seemed to enjoy talking about brain compatible learning philosophy and its effects within their individual classrooms (See Appendix A for the complete list of questions used as conversational starting points during interviews). Besides interviews with principals and teachers at each of the three selected school sites, our research team spent several days looking for examples of application of BCL. This was accomplished through observing teacher and student behavior within classrooms of the selected schools and comparing researcher notes. The intent was to identify possible connections between teaching, and student learning within the physical environment. Each selected school had a significant number of variables that are often noted to influence a teachers’ attitude, use of instructional strategies, job satisfaction, and retention in the profession. Other variables noted included student attention, enthusiasm for learning, student academic performance, attendance, and attitude. These variables are often associated with schools where the learning environment is considered safe, supportive, and enriched (21st Century School Fund, 2009; Delpit, 1995; Donaldson, 2001; Jensen, 2008; Pellicer & Anderson, 1995; Sousa, 2011). Results Prior to facility renovations and/or construction, the learning community at each of the three sites faced challenges that many impoverished and depressed communities face: student engagement and achievement, teacher retention, overall school performance, and community support. With facility construction or improvement, it was obvious that something was making a difference in addressing these challenges. First visits to the two improved school sites and the one newly built school provided interesting impressions that immediately begged the researchers to investigate why these campuses were experiencing success in student achievement, teacher retention, and community satisfaction. The mystery was there for the research team to solve! Contributing comments by teachers from each school site were derived from their responses to the following questions posed during interviews: 1. Do you believe the school facility contributes to school success; 2. Do you believe that the school facility affects teacher, student, and surrounding community attitudes; 3. What is your opinion regarding how facility design and space affect learning; and 4. In what ways does the building principal impact the facilitation of BCL philosophy in the facility design and teacher practice? Even though each school in this study shared a common BCL philosophy, there were some interesting differences in how this philosophy was incorporated into facility design. Retrofitting existing buildings to support BCL was a challenge for two of the school sites (International-With-A-Facelift and Over-the-Hill). Philosophical interpretation became a challenge for the facility built specifically to support BCL. December 2012 / ACEF 48


ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012
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