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Design of Learning Spaces: Emotional and Cognitive Effects of Learning Environments in Relation to Child Development


Petra A. Arndt, Transfer Center for Neuroscience and Learning, University of Ulm, Beim Alten Fritz 2, D-89075 Ulm, Germany; e-mail:


The design of learning spaces is rightly gaining more and more pedagogical attention, as they influence the learning climate and learning results in multiple ways. General structural characteristics influence the willingness to learn through emotional well-being and a sense of security. Specific structural characteristics influence cognitive processes, from visual and acoustic perceptions, via attention to the model, to processes of comprehension and reflection. Aspects of the design of the learning space also modify the interaction among students and between students and their teacher. Furthermore, the different requirements that have emerged through the development toward a learning society and the explosive increase of available information in our society require changes in the design of learning processes and thus of learning environments. Taking biological needs and neurobiological processes into account when designing learning spaces can provide a beneficial learning environment with regard to mental resources. This article will highlight relevant (neuro)biological fundamentals and try to describe resulting conclusions for the design of learning spaces.