Maintaining an Effective Work Space: Impact of Spatial Ordering

Maintaining a good study space is important to every student’s success. Students must have appropriate environments in which to learn and study, both at school and at home. Setting up and keeping an organized work space requires that students have strong spatial abilities. Such abilities help a student arrange a consistent place for storing school books, organize a desk drawer, keep a desk clear of clutter, etc.

Here are some strategies to help students maintain effective spaces for studying and working.

Creating A Work Space

  • Talk with students about the elements of a good study place. Examples may include a good desk (big enough to hold materials and to write on), a sturdy but comfortable chair, good light, comfortable room temperature, a quiet atmosphere, etc. You may also help students identify elements that are distracting in a study environment, e.g., a loud stereo, the t.v., a friend or sibling who wants to talk, etc.
    • As a project, have students create their own study environment using elements discussed in class, and then report back on the elements they were able to include.  
  • Help students establish a space that is dedicated to the task of studying/doing homework. In order to help students get into the habit of studying in the place, remind them not to use it for social conversations, writing letters, daydreaming, etc. The elements in this space should promote alertness and concentration. Reading on the bed, for example, may not a good idea for promoting alertness and concentration. Working at a comfortable desk used only for studying would more likely promote the necessary concentration.  
  • Some students may need help setting up and maintaining an organized work space at home. Parents may start by helping a child organize his/her space regularly, gradually giving the child more responsibility for maintaining the space. The aim is to accustom the child to working in an organized space, thereby increasing his/her motivation to maintain such organization.  
  • Maintain an organized classroom to assist students with their own organization. For example, keep blackboards uncluttered and free of extraneous visual information, keep sets of notes or outlines (in taped or in written form) as a student-accessible library, etc.  
  • Encourage students to prepare for studying and homework by organizing their books and work space and clearing their desks of distractions. This may help reduce anxiety related to studying and help students focus on the task at hand.