Utilizing Design Principles to Promote Inclusion in the Learning Environment

Conference: The European Conference on Education (ECE2020)
Title: Utilizing Design Principles to Promote Inclusion in the Learning Environment
Stream: Learning Experiences, Student Learning & Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Kristi Gaines, Texas Tech University, United States
Charles Klein, Texas Tech University, United States
Malinda Colwell, Texas Tech University, United States


The purpose of this study was to address the importance of sensory input within the built environment as a child development strategy. Typically, people receive information about the surrounding environment through their senses collectively (sensory integration). However, sensory processing disorder may occur when sensory signals do not integrate to provide appropriate responses. As a result, the environment may cause a child to feel confused or irritated. As with all sensory symptoms, severity may vary, and both hyper- and hypo-sensitivities may be present. The findings show that individuals with sensory processing disorder view their environment differently than the general population. The data gathered was analyzed and coded to reflect six sensory categories: sight, touch, hearing, taste, smell, and motion (includes proprioception and vestibular senses). Each of these themes were further evaluated according to child developmental domains, best practice design indicators, and the elements and principles of design. The result was the development of “Six Inclusive Design Principles for Learning Environments.” The research also showed that all children in the learning environment benefited from the integration of the inclusive design principles. This presentation will explain each recommendation and will provide practical examples for integration of the principles into indoor and outdoor learning spaces. This information is beneficial for design professionals, early childhood administrators, and parents.