Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Decorated Learning Environment: Simply Noise or an Opportunity for Incidental Learning?


Maintaining attention during instruction is challenging as children face various sources of distraction (peers, announcements, noise) as well as competition from the visual environment itself. Prior studies found decorated environments promote off-task behavior and reduce learning. Additionally, many classroom displays are not relevant to ongoing instruction. This raises the possibility that increasing alignment between displays and instructional content may afford opportunities for incidental learning, reducing the detrimental effects of environmental off-task behavior. To investigate this possibility, participants completed a lesson in which alignment between the lesson content and displays was manipulated (relevant, educational but irrelevant, or no displays). Attention to the lesson and learning gains for content presented in the lesson and/or displays were measured. Results suggest younger children’s learning can benefit from displays that reinforce the lesson content. However, there was no evidence of incidental learning from displays without additional lesson support. Implications for classroom design are discussed.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View