How does classroom design affect student learning?
A recent study by the University of Salford discovered that classroom design can impact learning by 25%, both positively and negatively. Whilst it took a university study to prove the fact, many forward thinking teachers and head teachers have been convinced about the relationship between classroom design and learning for years.
Although student grades and academic achievements are the largest pointers to the success of your classroom design, it is also important not to overlook the intangible pointers that are harder to measure; attitudes to learning, motivation and social skills.
A successful classroom design needs to strike the balance between the teaching methods and learning styles that take place in the space. Combining learning and teaching (two entirely different activities in our opinion) helps to create a learning environment that facilitates both the student and the teacher, thereby creating a more fulfilling learning experience.
Alongside achieving the balance between teaching and learning, it also imperative to ensure that the space in your classroom is used wisely. Many classrooms have areas of underutilised space or feel cramped and undersized. However with careful attention to the furniture and layout within your classroom, you can achieve the correct balance of space usage.
There are other environmental factors that will impact your student’s learning experience. These are physical contributors, and the correct balance of all of these items will help to create a winning learning environment. The factors that you will need to pay attention to are:
The sound levels in your classroom greatly impact learning. Whether it is the minimising of background noise, or the amplification of the teacher’s voice, achieving the correct balance of sounds will help to enhance the students’ learning experience.
Ventilation and Temperature Control
Correct temperature levels in your classroom and good supply of fresh air will help to keep students alert and comfortable. When temperatures rise, students may become drowsy and lose concentration.
There is no substitute for natural daylight in a classroom. However, when sunlight is limited it is important to ensure that there is adequate artificial light. The correct lighting in your classroom prevents eye-strain and helps to keep students alert and focussed. When choosing lighting, it is important to consider how you may need to alter the lighting to facilitate the learning experience. For example in a science classroom, black-out blinds may be needed for some experiments.
The furniture in your classroom is of utmost importance to the learning experience. Student comfort is a top priority. Ensuring that the chairs are the right size for the students will help to keep your students’ focussed. Good quality furniture will ensure that your classroom stays smarter for longer, and whilst it might be slightly more expensive to purchase, it will be better long term value for money.
Storage is another important factor in the design of your classroom. Adequate storage helps to keep the classroom free from clutter, but teaching aids and resources are still on hand if you need them. A Teaching Wall unit or other fixed storage will help to keep your classroom tidy, and save space.
Decor and Soft Furnishing
Classroom design and learning go hand it hand, with a key factor being the decoration and furnishing. This aspect of the classroom needs to be carefully considered to enhance the learning experience. Pay attention to colours and textures. There is a lot of evidence about how colours can affect moods, so ensure that you are creating a classroom design that will help students to adopt the right attitude to learning. Maintenance of your classroom is also very important. Peeling paintwork and scuffed furniture don’t help to create an inspirational learning environment.
The best classroom designs will facilitate both the students and teachers. With the introduction of wireless devices, the teacher now spends less time at the front of the classroom, but spends time with the students, guiding them on a more individual level. Pay attention to how your classroom is laid out to ensure that both teacher and student are as productive as possible. Sight lines and accessibility to all areas in the classroom are important for both student and teacher.
Ownership and Flexibility
Well-designed classrooms are easy to adapt, giving both students and teachers a sense of ownership for their space. Configurable furniture facilitates constant change in the classroom. The classroom can be altered for different activities, and will help to make more productive learners. For example, if a teacher can move tables together for group work, and then apart for individual work, it will help the students to be more effective in the way they interact with their studies, the environment and those around them.
Once you’ve achieved your inspirational classroom design, combine the space with inspired teaching methods to take your students’ results to new levels.