We’ve all discussed the “nature versus nurture” issue at one point or another, and while people may disagree over how much of a role each factor plays in human, animal and plant development, it can’t be denied that each is important. One area within human experience that is particularly prone to being discussed in the context of that argument is education.

Nature versus nurture is one of the biggest issues in education reform, with researchers and educators constantly looking for the right combination of elements that will help maximize student outcomes. That’s why the best educators find ways to combine effective teaching strategies and classroom management skills to turn the environment in which they teach into one where students feel comfortable, safe, and inspired to learn.

The role of personalized education in learning environments

One of the biggest changes that has taken place in education over the past couple of decades is the transition to a more personalized learning approach. Whereas traditional teaching and administrative techniques called for an approach that measured students based purely on academic success, newer methods are trying to understand and incorporate the many different aptitudes pupils can display.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a group composed of governments from 30 democracies around the world that works to solve social, economic, and environmental challenges, conducted a survey into the issue of personalized education and its role in effective learning environments. The results of that survey showed how important it is for schools around the world to work toward creating customized learning environments and systems where a student’s full range of talents can be explored and developed.

In a world where high-level skills are more important than ever, the OECD found that to meet the demands of a changing global economy, education strategies that emphasize a more personalized approach would need to be implemented.

Creating effective learning environments

As an educator, designing and building those more personalized, effective learning environments in your classroom may be easier said than done. Fortunately, it’s an area that has been subject to a lot of research recently, and several methods have proved to be essential to creating an effective learning environment.

  • Students ask questions. Instead of lecturing or asking rapid fire questions of your students, foster an environment where every child feels comfortable being curious. Encourage them to lead discussions and ask questions. It will also help you figure out what each individual student needs.
  • Permit free flow of ideas. Collaboration and creativity should be a regular part of classroom activities. They allow students to think about problems from different perspectives and develop unique ideas and understandings of how to solve those problems.
  • Carve out time for personalized learning. While it’s difficult in this day and age of growing class sizes and shrinking staff numbers to offer the kind of personalized learning that every teacher would prefer, carving out as much time as you can for individual students is imperative. You can schedule a block of class time where students will work on their own projects, then circulate among the students and spend as much time as you can discussing each project.
  • Take a different approach to assessment. Standardized testing has become nearly universal in schools across the country. So try to counteract the reliance on those tests by using different types of assessments in your classroom. Make sure it’s authentic and transparent and students understand why and how they are being graded.

At its heart, an effective learning environment is a dedicated teacher who wants to see his or her students thrive. By implementing some of these ideas, you can help create a more fertile environment for your students.