Designing The Classroom To Enhance Learning
Classroom design can have a significant effect on students’ academic progress, reports Adi Bloom in the Times Educational Supplement:
“Academics from the University of Salford in Britain examined how much pupils’ environment affects their performance, looking at whether certain types of classrooms encourage learning learning. Their findings were published in the latest issue of the journal Building and Environment.
Researchers examined the academic achievement of 751 pupils, studying in 34 classrooms across seven schools. Their observations found that 73 per cent of the variation in pupils’ performance could be explained by environmental factors.
In fact, the difference between the academic performance of an average pupil placed in the worst classroom, compared with that of a pupil placed in the best classroom, was equal to the average improvement of a child during an entire academic year.”
Here, some of the environmental factors that influenced students’ learning:
• Classrooms that received natural light from more than one direction, and with high-quality electric lighting, benefited pupils.
• Design features that allowed pupils to feel a sense of ownership towards their classroom also helped them to learn.
• Comfortable—and larger—desks and chairs were an aid to progress.
• Pupils benefited from a range of activity zones within a single classroom, allowing different types of learning to take place at the same time.
• Other factors were found to have such a detrimental effect on learning—for instance, noise and temperature levels—that they rendered all other factors insignificant.
• While stimulation was important, so was a sense of order. ‘Young children may like exciting spaces, but to learn it would seem they need relatively ordered spaces, with a reasonable degree of interest,’ the researchers conclude.” (Unfortunately, the article is not available online.)
Much of this is common sense, and yet many of the spaces that children learn in are far from ideal, so attention to the issue of design is clearly needed.
What about the spaces that your children or students learn in—do they resemble the ideal described by the University of Salford researchers?