Clever Classrooms

Clever ClassroomsA 2015 study by Salford University explored the impact of classroom design on learning and concluded that well-designed classrooms can boost learning progress in primary school pupils by up to 16% in a single year. 27 schools were used, with 153 classrooms were studied. Where possible, in each school a classroom for each of Years 1-6 was selected. John Coe, Chair of the National Association for Primary Education (NAPE), said of the study: “The research offers sound sense and teachers, putting children first as always, can improve their classrooms without spending a lot of money.”

The researchers show that, of the factors explored, daylight, temperature and air quality have the most influence on childrens’ progress. The childrens’ feelings of ownership of their surroundings are also important as is a classroom environment which is neither over stimulating nor unduly calming. Three types of physical characteristic of classrooms were assessed: Stimulation, Individualisation and Naturalness.The factors found to be particularly influential are, in order of influence:
  • Naturalness: light, temperature and air quality –accounting for half the learning impact
  • Individualisation: ownership and flexibility – accounting for about a quarter
  • Stimulation (appropriate level of): complexity and colour – again about a quarter.

The full report is available here as a free download.

“It is unusual and refreshing to welcome research which considers the impact of primary school design upon the lives and learning of young children. Perhaps surprisingly, the findings indicate that the salient features of the whole school do not matter most to pupils. The most powerful impact is made by the physical design of the particular classroom in which they spend such a vitally important time with their teacher.” (John Coe, Chair of the National Association for Primary Education (NAPE))


Reference/Original source: Peter Barrett, Fay Davies, Yufan Zhang, Lucinda Barret. The impact of classroom design on pupils’ learning: Final results of a holistic, multi-level analysis. Building and Environment, March 2015


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