Pedagogy and Classroom Design Students Special Needs Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Educators and school administrators have a legal and ethical obligation to create learning environments that serve all students, include those who have been labeled with emotional or developmental disabilities, or with behavioral disorders. I believe that educators frequently become frustrated due to lack of knowledge about best practices in special education, especially when working in a universal classroom. The entire school benefits from serving children with special needs through effective classroom design, in terms of higher overall achievement scores (Carrero, Collins, Lusk, et al., 2017). Therefore, I am proposing low-cost, unobtrusive alterations to classroom design that all teachers and schools can implement.

The preliminary research I have done to investigate my research question has revealed a fairly large body of research demonstrating what works and how to create an optimized classroom environment for all students. Also, I believe that changes to the classroom environment do not need to be costly, and often entail simple attitudinal changes in administration, leadership, and among the student body. These attitudinal changes can promote a supportive learning environment that yields measurable results in performance outcomes. I have some personal experience with helping students with special needs, but I have minimal education leadership experience so am unaware of the institutional obstacles that might stand in the way of implementing suggested changes. However, I know that submitting my proposal to school districts or to individual schools should include a reference to the Americans with Disabilities Act and other legislation to underscore the legal obligation that educators have to meeting the needs of all students through effective classroom design. Although optimistic, I do not believe I am biased but am simply interested in making evidence-based practice suggestions for teachers working with students with special needs.

The classroom design includes all aspects of the learning environment, from the size, shape, and location of the room, the presence of natural light, the arrangement of seating, availability of interactive learning resources, the placement of the teacher in relation to students, acoustics, and any other element that is not strictly embedded in the curricula or lesson plans. Research shows that classroom design can exacerbate predispositions to emotional and behavioral problems including what are known as behavioral excesses (such as outbursts or aggression) and also deficits such as being withdrawn, not participating, or not showing up for school (Landrum, Tankersley & Kauffman, et al, 2003). Research also shows that students are much more likely to comply with classroom regulations when environmental triggers are removed, and when the classroom design promotes prosocial behavior (Landrum, Tankersley & Kauffman, et al, 2003). Prosocial behavior has in turn been positively correlated with the ways teachers arrange their classrooms to encourage social interactions among peers or between teacher and student (Breeman, Wubbels, van Lier, et al., 2015). Therefore, making changes to the classroom environment through strategic design, layout of the classroom, the placement of props and other materials, and the nature of the workspace can all help reduce unwanted behaviors and promote student achievement.

Another element of classroom design that has been shown to be important for promoting the achievement of students with special needs is universal design for learning (UDL). The principles of UDL go beyond just the physical environment. Using UDL, teachers are encouraged to use multimedia throughout all lessons, using rich examples and multiple means of expression (Johnson-Harris & Mundschenk, 2014). The assumption is that students interact with material in different ways based on their emotional and cognitive orientations, and multiple means of representing and expressing material helps each student understand and comprehend the lesson. The keys to effective instructional and…

Sources Used in Document:


Braxton, L.M.K. (2004). An investigation of special education teacher support. Dissertation.

Breeman, L.D., Wubbels, T., van Lier, P.A.C., et al. (2015). Teacher characteristics, social classroom relationships, and children\'s social, emotional, and behavioral classroom adjustment in special education. Journal of Social Psychology 53(1): 87-103.

Brownell, M.T., Ross, D.D., Colon, E.P., et al. (2005). Critical features of a special education teacher preparation. The Journal of Special Education 38(4): 242-252.

Carrero, K., Collins, L., Lusk, M., et al. (2017). Equality in the evidence base. Behavioral Disorders 43(1): 253-261.

Johnson-Harris, K.M. & Mundschenk, N.A. (2014). Working effectively with students with BD in a general education classroom. The Clearing House 87(2014): 168-174.

Landrum, T.J., Tankersley, M., Kauffman, J.M. (2003). What is special about special education for students with emotional or behavioral disorders? The Journal of Special Education 37(3): 148-156.

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