[Category: In Class]
How to Deliver Demonstrated Learning Benefits with Next Generation Classroom Design: Part 2/3
Graph description: Classroom design impacts a student’s academic progress over the course of an academic year by 25%.
Supporting the development of new best practices in classroom design is a growing body of research that demonstrates the ways in which the classroom environment affects student engagement and academic performance.
A groundbreaking study released in 20123 found that classroom design impacts a student’s academic progress over the course of an academic year by 25% in either direction – positive or negative. That is, the academic performance of a child in the best environment is expected to be 25 percent better than an equivalent child in the ‘poorest’ classroom environment. Even more astounding, the difference between the best- and worst-designed classrooms accounted for a full year’s worth of academic progress.
The authors ultimately concluded that 73% of the variation in performance among students could be attributed to five key design factors: color, choice, complexity, flexibility and light.
- Color – Providing enough visual stimulation around the classroom through the use of color on walls, floors and furniture
- Choice – Quality furniture including interesting and ergonomic tables and chairs that support a sense of ownership
- Complexity – Providing novel surroundings and attention-grabbing décor in balance with orderliness
- Flexibility – The ability of a classroom to accommodate students without crowding them, along with how easily furniture can be rearranged to support a variety of activities and teaching approaches.
- Light – Quality and quantity of natural light, and degree of control with the level of lighting
Follow up studies have provided deeper insight into the relative impact of each of these factors. At the outset of a major 2015 study4 the authors’ hypothesized that, “Clearly from the literature it can be anticipated that the built environment of the classrooms will have a great impact on pupils’ academic performance, health and wellbeing…” Their own study confirmed the significant impact of the physical classroom features on academic progress, finding that factors within the following three categories accounted for the differences in performance:
- Naturalness – Accounting for around 50% of the impact on learning, this category relates to environmental factors required for physical comfort, such as light, sound, temperature, air quality and ‘links to nature.
- Stimulation – This category refers to the vibrancy of the classroom balancing color and complexity for optimal engagement and positive behavior – and accounts for about 25% of differences in learning.
- Individuality – Accounting for the remaining 25% in learning differences and of particular relevance to this paper, this category encompasses how well a classroom meets the needs of a particular group of children through offering:
- Ownership – how identifiable and personalized the room is
- Flexibility – how well the room addresses the needs of a particular age group and any changing pedagogy
- Connection – a measure of how readily the pupils can connect to the rest of the school
3 Study Shows How Classroom Design Affects Student Learning, Accessed 10.2.16 at: https://www.fastcodesign.com/1671627/study-shows-how-classroom-design-affects-student-learning
4 Barrett, Peter, et al., The impact of classroom design on pupils’ learning: Final results of a holistic, multi-level analysis, Published July 2015 in Building and Environment. Accessed 10.3.16 at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360132315000700