Design Matters: Learning Environments

Classroom @ Sturgis Charter Public School designed by Studio G Architects Classroom @ Sturgis Charter Public School designed by Studio G Architects

As architects, we believe that design can have a strong impact on student learning, productivity and overall well-being. So we were thrilled to discover a recent study published in the journal Building and the Environment that supported this idea with compelling data. The study, conducted during the 2011–12 academic year, examined various teaching and learning spaces and ranked them according to ten different design parameters: light, sound, temperature, air quality, choice, flexibility, connection, complexity, color, and texture. Six of the design parameters (color, choice, complexity, flexibility, connection, and light) were deemed to have a substantial effect on learning. In fact, the results indicated that classroom design could be attributed to a 25% impact, positive or negative, on a student’s progress over the course of an academic year. And in some cases, a full year’s worth of academic progress separated the best- and worst-designed classrooms covered in the study.

“It has long been known that various aspects of the built environment impact on 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. The impact identified is in fact greater than we imagined…”
– Lead Author, Professor Peter Barrett

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