Over the past few years I have been reading about the positive effects of classroom design on academic performance. Here is one of those articles. I've always thought that being able to see outdoors whether in a school or business environment was better than being in a closed-off, windowless room.
Windows that allow sunlight to pour indoors; chairs and desks in happy, bright colors; furniture that is comfortable and easy to move around. All of these elements are widely recognized as factors in desirable classrooms for kids. But a new study conducted by by the University of Salford’s School of the Built Environment and architecture firm Nightingale Associates, both based in the United Kingdom, provides evidence that school design can affect students’ performance over the course of an academic year.
“Notably, 73% of the variation in pupil performance driven at the class level can be explained by the building environment factors measured in this study,” a press release on the findings states. The study is also featured in the peer-reviewed journal Building and the Environment. Design elements can affect children’s school progress by as much as 25%, according to the survey.
The catch? Student performance can be affected both ways by classroom design. For better or for worse, in other words, depending on the quality of a school’s layout and decor.
While my sons were in school I noticed a change in the behavior of the children when the school went from an open-air school and permitting children to go outside to play verses the locked-down, shades-down, no outside play for the most part.
During those years, I was both a gym teacher and a day-care teacher. More than one time I requested to take the kids outside even if it was just to run off some energy, but was refused. This was not a city school where crime was a factor. Basically it was told to me that it is too hard to get kids to settle down. I, personally, had no trouble with that most of the time and found their attention span much better after being outdoors.
When my sons attended high school, the setting was very similar to a college campus and both of them liked it very much. Their feelings about the campus echoed this student's who said about their high school campus...
Sixteen-year-old senior Louie Vital says, “It makes me feel mature in a setting like this.”
To take this a step further, I find as an adult I do better when I have been in the daylight and sun than when I have been in the dark. When I worked in a closed artificial environment, I found it difficult to get motivated.
Here is a link to the different building types that were and are being used for this ongoing study of school architecture. Some of the designs are futuristic and sprawled out, others are innovative architecture for city schools.