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How design of the physical environment impacts early learning : educators and parents perspectives

Berris, Rebecca & Miller, Evonne (2011) How design of the physical environment impacts early learning : educators and parents perspectives. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 36(4).

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Abstract

This research explores the quality and importance of the physical environment of two early learning centres on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, utilising qualitative interviews with parents (n=4) and educators (n=4) to understand how design might impact on children’s development and a quantitative rating (the Early Childhood Physical Environment Rating Scale; ECPERS) to assess the quality of the physical built environment and infrastructure. With an average ECPERS quality rating, thematic analysis of the interviews revealed that educators and parents viewed the physical environment as important to a child’s development, although the quality of staff was predominant. Early learning centres should be ‘homely’, inviting, bright and linked to the outdoors, with participants describing how space “welcomes the child, makes them feel safe and encourages learning”. Four key themes characterised views: Emotional Connection (quality of staff and physical environment), Experiencing Design (impact of design on child development), Hub for Community Integration (relationships and resources) and Future Vision (ideal physical environment, technology and ratings). With participants often struggling to clearly articulate their thoughts on design issues, a collaborative and jargon-free approach to designing space is required. These findings will help facilitate discussion about the role and design of the physical environment in early childhood centres, with the tangible examples of ‘ideal space’ enhancing communication between architects and educators about how best to design and reconfigure space to enhance learning outcomes.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 46928
Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: design, early learning, child development, parent perceptions, educator perceptions
ISSN: 1836-9391
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > ARCHITECTURE (120100) > Architectural Design (120101)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > ARCHITECTURE (120100) > Interior Design (120106)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Design
Deposited On: 10 Nov 2011 09:32
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2011 14:56

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