A very interesting research report has come out of the University of Salford, UK, that reveals the impact of learning space design on student outcomes. This won’t come as a shock to any teacher but the physical characteristics that had the most impact might.
The HEAD (Holistic Evidence and Design) Project divided the design factors into naturalness, individualisation and stimulation.
The full report is a fabulous and practical read; 52 pages full of photos, diagrams, oversized text and charts. For the cheat sheet, head straight for pages 42-43, “Checkpoints for Teachers”.
Here’s something for you: a full half of the impact of school design on learning came down to naturalness. That’s primarily light, temperature and air quality. Individualisation only impacted a quarter.
Differences in the learning environments accounted for 16% of the variation in learning progress. From the study,
Or to make this more tangible, it is estimated that the impact of moving an ‘average’ child from the least effective to the most effective space would be around 1.3 sub-levels, a big impact when pupils typically make 2 sub-levels progress a year.
I’ll start implementing positive changes to my classroom by focusing first on naturalness. My room has air conditioning, so temperature is usually comfortable (or is it that just for me?). I often keep the blinds closed, partly by force of habit from when we had a dull old projector and partly because I’m most comfortable in a darkened cave. Air quality is also an issue in my room (methane!). Simple steps such as turning off the air conditioner and opening the windows could make a significant impact for students and the environment.
Do you find anything in this report that you could change in your own learning environments?