Master of Arts in Higher Education (MAHE) Theses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Drew Moser

Second Advisor

Kelly Yordy

Third Advisor

Skip Trudeau


The purpose of this study is to discover how students are affected by the physical environment they learn in and if the restorative benefits of nature adds to the positive experience of learning. The physical environment or the classroom, can complement the learning experience alongside with the curriculum that is being taught, but the physical environment is often overlooked. This study asks how students perceive the physical environment of college classrooms, if they see it affecting their classroom learning, and if students perceive the elements of nature to affect classroom learning. A convergent parallel mixed methods approach is used to answer this research question. A 19-item survey was administered to university students to gain feedback from their experiences in two types of classrooms, (1) an atypical classroom and (2) a typical classroom setting. With over 200 responses, the results indicated that students found that the physical environment (specifically how nature is implemented) influences their learning experiences. Students had more positive learning experiences in the atypical classroom than the typical classroom due to the lighting, arrangement, openness, and overall inviting nature of the class. With this insight, higher educational professionals can begin to see the importance of how the physical environment can affect student learning, which could shape the decision making process when constructing future learning spaces on campuses.