Create Student Success with an Active Learning Environment

McCoy Rockford

Schools and universities across the country are embracing an innovative learning style that encourages collaborative activity and student thought leadership over traditional lecture-based classrooms. In 1852, a forward-thinking individual by the name of John Henry Newman described true learning as, “not merely in passive reception into the mind… but in the mind’s energetic and simultaneous action upon and among those new ideas.” From this, the concept of active learning was born.


With this methodology in mind, educators are seeking dynamic furniture and design, integrated technology and functional mobility options to create a more flexible learning environment that fosters creativity, vitality and active participation in the classroom. McCoy Rockford is a knowledgeable resource for today’s most innovative schools to transform their campuses into new and improved settings for students of the 21st century.

Here’s how we’re helping to lead a classroom-design revolution:

Freedom of movement, freedom of mind.

Traditional classroom settings are set up for verbal dictation and passive listening. Allowing physical movement for students to group together in dynamic formats, allows for differentiated interaction, and for alternating control of conversation between classmates. The Turnstone Shortcut with Tripod Base Chair and Node Chair by Steelcase give students the ability to reconfigure their independent work stations to engage in discussion, rather than simply consume information. Smith System takes freedom of mobility a step further with seating such as their Oodle Stool that allows individuals to rotate and rock in place, benefitting students with unique body types, and sensory and attention needs.

A balancing act of analog and tech.

It is not uncommon for modern academics to be screen-focused, whether that includes incorporating video content into lectures, referring to world news sources or even facilitating hybrid learning with some students attending class from their home computers. While necessary in the modern classroom, technology should also be integrated with analog creation for a change in perspective and focus, and to allow for more rapid-fire idea sharing between students. The Verb Whiteboard and Active Media Table by Steelcase create a mobile setup for students to share ideas and compliment virtual brainstorming sessions with creative expression. The Amobi Collection by AMQ helps educators develop a floor plan that mixes functional seating with integrated media and hands-on brainstorming tools like writing boards and soft storage for workspace materials.

Informality sparks collaboration.

In theory, the purpose of the classroom is to prepare students with the skills they need to transition into a professional career. Yet we rarely see the actual skills that are being taught in school carried out in the real world in the same traditional classroom format. Careers in the fields of business, entrepreneurship, and any profession that require classroom education tend to facilitate discussion, planning and interactions in a much more informal setting than a lecture-style education environment. Creating a more informal setting for students allows them to practice soft skills such as effective listening, problem solving and negotiation, just as they would in the real world. The Media:Scape Lounge Collection and i2i Chair by Steelcase allow for students to engage with a more natural flow of conversation and body language. Away from the Desk lounge chairs by Orange Box provide options to design endless options of floor plans so educators can create classrooms that complement their students’ unique preferences in how they learn together.

For more insights on active learning and creating a modern classroom, refer to the Steelcase research.