Importance of aesthetics in a training environment
We use five primary senses to learn and gain new knowledge and skills - hearing, sight, touch, taste and smell. These all help us receive and retain information.
The Cambridge dictionary defines training as the process of learning the skills you need to do a particular job or activity. We know that there are different learning styles and that learners absorb information differently, but how does the immediate learning environment affect the way we retain new information?
The VARK model identifies four main methods of learning: Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing and Kinesthetic. Regardless whether a learner is most effective at acquiring new skills through visual demonstration, reading textbooks and writing reports, audible instructions or physical exercises, we must understand how the physical environment influences the success of each of those learning styles.
What is Aesthetics in a Training Environment
To help us realise its influence, we should understand the contributing factors of aesthetics in a training environment. Aesthetics is the idea of how something looks and feels. In simple terms, it is everything from the carpet and the walls of a training room to the decor, soft furnishings and the outside space. However, it goes deeper than just the standard and the quality of these physical attributes; aesthetics has the power to evoke emotion and create ambience.
Top Tip: People love to share their experiences. Keep an eye on all platforms for feedback, from your social channels to those of external facilitators and reviews on the venue's website. You can then use the information to monitor the impact aesthetics have on your training process.
Emotions: Good or Bad
Experiences with aesthetics can evoke a range of emotions, often manifesting itself in a physical response. These emotional reactions can include anything from an involuntary smile to shivers down the spine or an unexpected surge of endorphins. Regardless of the physical response, the emotion behind it will have a positive or negative impact on the learning process.
Happiness will promote positive engagement in the training environment, while negative emotions will detract from the desired learning outcomes. A negative deterrent can be something as simple as an unpleasant odour or the constant drone of a lawnmower outside the window. If you can resolve it quickly and effortlessly, then take steps to eliminate the source. Alternatively, you may need to change the location or postpone the training programme if there are more permanent issues that may arouse harmful emotions.
Equally, aesthetics that promote positive emotions can easily distract from the learning, and you should choose a location that supports the nature and objectives of the training programme. For example, Lane End is a dedicated environment for learning and development, providing specialist facilities in a peaceful setting. The venue ticks all the boxes for a positive learning experience, including natural light, top-class equipment, spacious training rooms, nutritious catering and fresh air. In contrast, a venue such as a theme park may have meeting rooms, but the theme park may present unduly distractions for an intensive training workshop. However, that venue may be the perfect solution for a sales training workshop combined with a requirement for team building.
The Happiness Factor
It is safe to say that happier participants will perform at a higher level than those affected by negative emotions.
According to the University of Stanford, happiness can improve through training our brains to shift from negative to positive. The psychology lies in the process of identifying what makes us unhappy and helping us to develop strategies to change our beliefs. This process can be helpful for trainers and facilitators that have to work with permanent aesthetics which can be harmful to the learning experience, by helping trainees identify the negative influences and adapt strategies to overcome such deterrents.
The Mind and Body Connection
In physical training circles, they often say a healthy body creates a healthy mind. We want to apply this philosophy to the learning environment where movement, fresh air, natural daylight, and nutrition can significantly influence concentration and participation.
Where possible, choose a training environment with ample space to move around [link to the pavilion page]. Consider the size of the training room to allow participants to get up from their chairs and move around in between sessions. Large windows and outdoor space are necessary for natural light and fresh air, both of which will contribute to better levels of concentration.
Finally, it all comes together in a straightforward concept - ambiance. We do not want the external environment to impact the learning experience negatively, nor do we want any positive stimulus to be so incredible that it becomes distracting. The happy medium will be to achieve the perfect ambience and create an environment that is conducive to learning.
To achieve this result, you should start with the objectives and desired outcomes of the training programme. It will then help to consider what emotions the environment will bring forward, how it will contribute to the learning process and how to leverage the aesthetics to achieve the optimum ambience.
For more information or to book your next training programme contact Belinda Gardner on 01494 881171 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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