The first aspect of your assessment and the most integral to your success in this course is an Environmental Design Proposal. You will be required to design a space relevant to one of the three broad themes. You will be designing a purpose built space with a specific end user in mind.
Your first task is to decide which of the projects you will be involved in. There are a number of options for you to choose. Topic areas are outlined on pp. 4-6 of this guide, and further information relating to these topics may be found in the Project Folders (Learning Environments, Community Environments & Healing Environments) which you will find in the Learning Resources section of the LearnJCU site for this subject.
Once you have decided on the space you wish to design you need to gather information on a number of issues of relevance to your consideration of the proposed space. These elements will be incorporated into your proposal:
Step 4 The construction of your proposal (Assignment 1A). The following should be used as a guide in relation to the layout of your submission:
Part ii) provide information relevant to the background of the project (this depends on your specific topic area and type of environment you choose to design)
Description of the Room Design
Environmental psychology is a broad field of study associated with exploring the interrelationships and transactions between human beings and socio-physical surroundings. This report presents a design proposal of a school garden with an aim of ensuring that it promotes learning. It is worth noting that the school environment has a significant effect on students’ behavior and academic performance (Imms & Byers, 2017); (O’Brennan, Bradshaw, & Furlong, 2014). Therefore engineers and architects are responsible for ensuring that the design of the school environment creates a conducive learning environment both for teachers and students. A well-designed and vibrant garden will have a positive impact on students’ behaviours and academic performance (Kausar, Kiyani, & Suleman, 2017). The proposed design of the garden in this report will promote cognitive engagement of students, create and integrate learning activities and improve overall learning of the students. The key factors considered when designing the school garden include the size, location, color, light and arrangement of the garden.
As aforementioned, the area that has been selected for design in this proposal is a garden in a learning environment. The design basically entails a school garden. The garden will comprise of different species of crops and plants. To make it more appealing to the students, the garden will have varied types, shapes, sizes and colors and shapes of crops and plants. The crops and plants will also be arranged creatively so as to make the garden stand out from the surroundings. Schools gardens have numerous academic and non-academic benefits.
The garden in this design project proposal will be used by secondary school students – adolescents. This is a very interesting age group considering that they are very choosy and almost anything can affect their concentration and performance at school. Therefore the design of the school garden is expected to have positive impacts on the students’ social behaviour and academic performance, and also equip them with knowledge and skills that will help them in their future. The design of the garden is not just about beautification but is also intended to help students learn and acquire new knowledge and skills. The fact that adolescents usually have different tastes and preferences will help in making the garden have a wide range of plants types, colors, shapes and patterns.
There are several activities that will be taking place in the school garden. One of the activities is gardening. This is where students will be growing and cultivating a variety of plants on the garden for the purpose of relaxing or getting produce when the plants mature. Some of the plants to be grown and cultivated on the garden include ornamental plants (for beauty), fruits and vegetables (for consumption) and others (for use as cosmetics, medicine or dyes). Another activity is relaxing. Since the garden will add beauty to the school compound, students will be visiting it occasionally during free time. This will provide them with an opportunity to relax thus reducing classroom tension, stress and depression. There will also be learning taking place in the garden. When students will be involved in gardening, they will learn a lot about the needs and lifecycle of plants (including elements such as plant diseases and control, pollination, how to increase yields, etc., nutritional and health benefits of different plants and how nature affects plant growth). Last but not least is decoration. Students will use the garden to sharpen their art skills by creating unique decorations and artworks using plants and natural dyes. This is a great way of engaging students in outdoor activities and improve their creative skills.
Factors to Consider When Designing a School Garden
Numerous design factors must be considered when designing a school garden. First is the structure of plants on the garden. It is important to combine different structures of plants, such as rounded, oval, matting, moulding, spike and spreading among others. This makes the garden more attractive. The size of trees should also be considered so that they do not create too much shade or obstruct natural daylighting from reaching nearby buildings. Lastly, the trees have to be arranged appropriately so as to give a unified view and enable easy access. Second is the size. This is determined by the purpose of the garden and the available space for the garden. Third is how the garden spaces are created and linked. The garden comprises of different spaces that are properly linked to enable students move easily from one end to another. These spaces and the links also encourage students to explore the entire garden (Hansen, 2018). Fourth is focal points on the garden. Every garden has focal points that make it more unique, attractive and satisfying. This garden has several focal points that have been highlighted or created using garden ornaments, district structures of plants, unique plants and contrasting textures, shapes, colors and sizes. The points will be used to capture the attention of students and direct them to particular areas on the garden.
Fifth is attention to details. Since the garden is on the school compound, it has numerous effects on students. The design has not only concentrated on the visual details but also on other details such as the scents of selected plants, flowering time, growth rate of plants, mature size of plants, etc. All these factors affect the interaction between the students and the garden at different times of the year. Sixth is resources needed to maintain the garden. The garden has to be resource-efficient throughout its lifecycle. This will help in reducing costs and protecting the environment. Some of the techniques used to make the garden resource-efficient include: choosing resource-efficient plants (those requiring less water, pesticides and fertilizers), installing a rainwater harvesting system, using eco-friendly fertilizers and pesticides, and installing an automated irrigation system. Last but not least is the local government regulations. This cannot be overlooked structures since each city-state has its own regulations associated with design of school gardens.
Outdoor spaces play a very key role in promoting academic performance and social behaviour of students and teachers in schools (Tomomi, Jennifer, & Timothy, 2016). For students, gardens provide them with a completely different learning environment from the one they are used to in class. The gardens are usually in an open place where students connect with nature in a relaxed way. This eliminates the tension that most students feel when in class, which they see it as a confined place with limited freedom (Blair, 2009). The proposed school garden design in this proposal combines several themes including forms, shapes/structures, colors, ornamental, relaxation, nutritional and oriental. Since there are several themes to be integrated on the garden, the design has to ensure that they do not interfere with each other but are compatible with each other. For instance, the various forms and shapes of plants on the garden should give it a more natural feel, make it more attractive and provide enough space for relaxation. In other words, all the themes must supplement each other.
Gardens are one of the focal elements of many schools for several reasons. First and foremost, they give students a refreshing environment. When students see or visit a school garden, they feel completely different from the classroom environment. This restores their cognitive capabilities and they are likely to start being creative on how to make use of that garden (Storrs, 2015). Second, many schools are using gardens to teach students about the importance of eating a balanced diet. A variety of crops (including fruits and vegetables) are usually planted on the gardens to help students understand how to cultivate them and also their nutritional value and benefits (nutrition education). A study conducted by Berezowitz, Bontrager, & Schoeller (2015) showed that school gardens improve dietary and academic performance outcomes in children. Therefore gardens encourage students to develop the culture of cultivating fruits and vegetables and transfer the same to their homes. Third, teachers use gardens to develop gardening and nutrition-education programs for their students (Slabe, 2017). This has two benefits: it increases students’ dietary intake of vegetables and fruits (Robinson-O’Brien, Story, &Hein, 2009), and it also presents an opportunity to students to engage in physical activities. This is a very good strategy of minimizing the chances of obesity among students. With school gardens, the time that students spend in sedentary activity reduces significantly (Wells, Myers, & Henderson, 2014).
Fourth, school gardens help students to learn about focus, team, cooperation, social skills and patience. Students are usually allocated a specific portion of the garden and allowed to grow certain plants/crops. In the process, they learn a lot about food growing as the plants/crops grow to maturity. This requires a lot of discipline and interest. It also equips students with hands-on skills on gardening and landscaping. Fifth, schools gardens help students to connect with nature thus inspiring environmental stewardship (Tampa Bay School Gardening Network, 2009). When students get more connected with nature, they are likely to be inspired to protect the environment because they do understand its value to humanity. The connection helps students to learn about the needs of individual species of crops/plants, the food chain, energy and water cycle, etc. This also boost students’ performance in science besides understanding the impact of plants on the environment and human life in general (Wells N., et al., 2015).
The school garden in this proposal has been designed based on findings from the research conducted. Most of the past research papers and other sources reviewed showed that school gardens can either have positive or negative effects on students’ academic performance and social behavior depending on how they are designed. For the garden to have positive impacts, it must be designed by considering several parameters. The size and location of the garden has been determined by the available space on the school compound and the purpose of the garden. The spaces on the garden (together with their links) have been influenced by the purpose of the garden and the need to ease accessibility of all parts of the garden so that students can explore it fully and effortlessly. The type, structure, size and shape of plants on the garden have been selected based on the location and purpose of the garden. The plant attributes are not supposed to affect students’ normal learning. For example, the plants should not be too long to block natural light from entering classrooms and other nearby buildings. Resources needed to construct and maintain the garden has also been considered when designing the garden. The design aims at making the garden resource-efficient so as to reduce construction and maintain costs, and also minimize any impacts that the garden may have on the environment.
This report presents an overview of the design proposal for the school garden. School gardens are one of the structures that have significant effect on students’ academic performance and social behavior. The gardens create part of the environment within which the students learn in schools. Studies have shown that a well-designed garden will improve students’ social behavior and academic performance, and vice versa. Therefore it is very important ensure that the garden is designed to achieve its intended purpose. Most school gardens are designed to help students relax, learn about gardening and nutritional value and benefits of various plants, equip them with gardening knowledge and hands-on skills, help them connect with nature and appreciate it, understand food chains, energy and water cycles and the impacts of agriculture on human life and the environment. The garden will also enable teachers develop learning programs for students, such as nutritional, physical activity, creative, social skills, management and environmental protection programs. Depending on how the garden is designed, these benefits can be achieved or not. The garden in this report has been designed by considering a wide range of parameters, including: purpose of the garden, available space, type of plants to be grown, resources needed, etc. The design will make the garden to be resource-efficient throughout its lifecycle. If this design is implemented, there is a very high chance of attaining all the potential benefits of school gardens. This will attest one of the major hypothesis in the environmental psychology field that the environment or setting where learning takes place has a significant effect on the performance and behaviour of students.
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