The impact of school building and classroom design on learning is getting more focused attention these days, and for good reason. New studies are showing that a school’s design can be a significant factor in student success. One study by the University of Salford’s School of the Built Environment in Manchester, England showed that, all other factors being equal, students who were fortunate enough to be in the best school environments could be expected to perform 25% better overall. This, combined with other recent research, emphasizes how important it is to implement design elements that have a positive impact on learning into our schools. Whether you are building a new construction, remodeling current facilities, or simply making small changes, the following factors are important to consider.
Open Classroom Design
The open classroom is not a new concept, but one that has made a big comeback in recent years. Open classroom design is a similar concept to open office design - it includes a wide open room with flexible furniture and a variety of stations set up for different activities or styles of learning. It enables the teacher to rearrange the setup as needed in order to use the classroom as a tool to optimize their students’ learning. It offers students the ability to move around more and to collaborate with one another. In contrast to a room filled with rows of desks, this type of classroom is more conducive to the different ways students learn. It also better prepares them for today’s highly collaborative workspaces.
Versare’s full line of room dividers are the perfect tools for an open classroom setting. Portable and lightweight, they offer teachers the ability to create learning stations or separate an area for small group work and to quickly and easily rearrange as often as they need to.
Bring the Natural World In
Natural light, plants, and green spaces can have a significant effect on student achievement as well. According to a study done in California, Washington, and Colorado in 2014, students’ math and reading scores were up to 26% higher when in classrooms with exposure to natural light. In other words, incorporating elements like windows and skylights helps to create healthy classrooms and more successful students. And when those windows overlook green spaces, student performance improves even more. Even adding plants to a classroom can increase student engagement and success. When planning a new construction or remodel, every effort should be made to include as much natural light and green space as possible.
Temperature and Air Quality
Room temperature and ventilation can similarly affect student performance. The ideal temperature range for learning is 68-78 degrees Fahrenheit. Drastic changes from this range can significantly impede student success. Additionally, students have been shown to score higher on achievement tests when in classrooms with proper ventilation. Poor ventilation causes buildup of pollutants and allergens, leading to a variety of health problems that can make learning difficult as well as increase absences from class. The need for effective heating, cooling, and ventilation in schools is clear.
Research has repeatedly shown that excessive noise makes learning more difficult. In addition, students in quieter schools have shown higher reading scores than those in noisier environments. Noise can be distracting to all students, but for those with learning disabilities or ADHD, it can be especially disruptive. Classroom acoustics should be a major focus when designing or remodeling schools, especially when implementing open classroom design.
Here at Versare we have a full line of acoustic panels, including partitions, ceiling tiles, desktop acoustic panels, and wall mounted acoustic tiles that you can incorporate into your new construction design or add to existing facilities. With so many options, controlling noise levels in the classroom couldn’t be simpler.
Can’t Do a Complete Remodel? Start Small
If your school is able to do a major redesign or new build, it is a great opportunity to rethink how students learn best and to craft an environment that supports them. But schools can consider the impact of their spaces on student success whether they are able to make big changes or not. Teachers can redesign their rooms to offer students more opportunities to direct their own learning, with separate activity areas, spaces for group collaboration, and more. Tools like whiteboards, portable partitions, and flexible seating can help. Wall-mounted acoustic panels can aid in managing noise levels, and incorporating a few plants into the room will add a natural element.
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