What Do We Know? While Brain Target One focuses on establishing a positive emotional climate, Brain Target Two fosters the careful planning of the physical learning environment. We know that our eyes register about 36,000 visual images per hour, with about ninety percent of the brain's sensory input coming from visual stimuli. With this vast visual capacity, the active brain constantly scans the environment seeking stimuli. Researchers tell us that the brain's visual attending mechanism is strongly influenced by novelty in the environment. Studies compared the effects of bland, unchanging environments with classrooms that provided students with stimulation through frequently adjusting and changing classroom displays. Findings revealed that children were off task more often in settings that lacked novelty.
What's the Impact on Learning? Sound, lighting, and scent also appear to have an effect on learning. Soft background music can help to relax students and provide a comfortable learning environment. However, while performing tasks that demand high levels of concentration, a quiet setting appears to be most effective. In studying the effects of lighting, researchers have shown increases in achievement of students who were taught in classrooms with the most natural and full spectrum lighting compared to dark classrooms or those with cool-white fluorescent lights (Kosik & Heschong, 2000). Scent can also be used to enhance memory, as olfactory input moves directly to the limbic system or emotional center. This accounts for the vivid recollection that an encounter with a familiar scent may invoke.
What Can Teachers Do? In the Brain-Targeted Teaching® Model, teachers carefully plan the physical learning environment by deliberately planning for novelty, order, and beauty within each learning unit.