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Study: Classroom Design Matters
posted by: Ruthie | January 07, 2013, 07:04 PM   

For years, researchers have understood that the classroom environment can have an effect on student learning. Whether that means having a comfortable chair, a great desk, or a place to get some exercise, teachers and students both need functional spaces to teach and learn. According to a recent study, school design can impact student learning by as much as 25% in early grades.

The new study by the University of Salford in the United Kingdom investigated a total of 751 students and 34 classrooms across seven primary schools during the 2011 -12 school year. Classrooms were rated on environmental qualities like classroom orientation, natural light, acoustics, temperature, air quality and color.

"It has long been known that various aspects of the built environment impact people in buildings, but this is the first time a holistic assessment has been made that successfully links the overall impact directly to learning rates in schools," Peter Barrett, a professor at the University of Salford, said in a statement.

The data suggests that a school's physical design can improve or worsen a student's academic performance by as much as 25% in early years. Current findings suggest that placing an average pupil in the least effective, rather than the most effective classroom environment, could affect their learning progress by as much as the average improvement across one year.

While the study will continue for another year and a half, it is already being used to lift restrictions on architecture in Europe.

In the United States, the Department of Education estimates that 14 million children attend public schools that are literally falling apart. Leaking roofs, mold on the walls, and dangling ceiling tiles are among the many deteriorations. According to internal studies, the current state of school buildings, "interfere with the ability of the school to deliver instruction." Remedying the problem would reportedly cost $127 – 322 billion dollars.

Despite the high cost of repairs, local governments continue to look for ways to improve learning environment for students and teachers without breaking the bank. While many of these improvements occur on a small scale, like an Indiana classroom where students sit on bouncy balls, or a Kansas charter school where most learning occurs on a school farm, the gradual changes in classroom environment demonstrate the great need to get students prepared and motivated to learn.

Click here to read the full study.

Teachers, what do you think about the results? How do you make your classroom a great place to learn?

Comment below.

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