CLT Meets Physical Environment

Practical ways to optimize transfer of knowledge in educational settings

AIA Continuing Education Provider

1 LU

Pending Acceptance and Subject to Change

Cognitive Load Theory highlights the cognitive processing undertaken when learning new information and is used by educational practitioners to optimize the way students learn, recall and retain knowledge. Such learning is reliant on the physical settings of educational environments including but not limited to classroom settings, student workspaces and other facilities designed for educational purposes. The role of physical environment as a component of extraneous cognitive load has only recently emerged as a definitive factor in Cognitive Load Theory. Educational specialists and Humanities Heads of Department Melissa Alexander and Scott Kerr provide a comprehensive overview of literature addressing physical environment factors impacting learning, takeaways from research and practical strategies to apply in the classroom to optimize student learning.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Practical strategies within the classroom to use physical environment to optimize student learning.
  2. Access to research and resources in the area of cognitive load theory and physical environment to shape their own practice.
  3. Participate in scenarios that prompt reflection into their own learning and conditions that facilitate effective learning.
  4. Receive ideas on how to innovate new classrooms to promote effective learning.

Melissa Alexander, Head of Humanities, Somerville House,
Melissa has been involved in education for 12 years, previously practicing as a solicitor. During her employment as a teacher, she has worked in Australian schools in both public and private sectors, presented pedagogical approaches to teaching Humanities and Psychology and was a semi-finalist in the TeachX Awards in 2019. Melissa has recently completed her Masters of Education with a focus on how students use physical learning environments in educational settings.

Scott Kerr, Head of Humanities, Rockhampton Grammar School,
Scott has worked in education for some 15 years. He is currently employed at Rockhampton Grammar School as the Head of Social Sciences and has a keen interest in cognitive load theory. Scott has worked in the private sectors within Queensland Schools and for the Curriculum Assessment Authority.  

Track: The Experience of Place

The built and natural environments have profound impacts on our behaviors both for better and worse. How do we cultivate a sense of place for better? How might the built and natural environments be made to enhance teaching and learning? How might school buildings and grounds foster a sense of community by reflecting those they serve?

Primary Core Competency
Educational Visioning: Exhibits an understanding of best and next practices related to educational leadership, programming, teaching, learning, planning and facility design. Establishes credibility with educators, community members and design professionals while conceiving and leading a community-based visioning process. Demonstrates the ability to articulate the impact of learning environments on teaching and learning and uses that ability to facilitate a dialogue that uncovers the unique needs and long-range goals of an educational institution and its stakeholders – translating that into an actionable written/graphic program of requirements for the design practitioner. 


Marriott Rivercenter
San Antonio, TX

October 5-9, 2022


+1 480.391.0840