Study finds that well-designed classrooms boost student success

From VoicED

New research published by Salford University has suggested that the layout, construction and design of classrooms has a significant impact on achievements in reading, writing and maths.

The researchers stated that among the most important elements within the design of a classroom were natural light, air quality, temperature and having individualized classroom designs.

According to the study, whole-school factors, such as the size of the school itself, or the facilities provided, had less impact on attainment than the design of individual classrooms.

The findings, carried out by researchers from Salford University with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, carried out detailed assessments of more than 150 classrooms across 27 ‘very diverse’ schools in a three year period.

The study’s findings suggest that differences in the physical design and characteristics of the classrooms assessed could explain 16% of the variation in learning progress over the course of a year, found between the 3,766 pupils who were involved in the research.

To put this in to perspective, the researchers claimed that the impact of moving an ‘average’ pupil from the least to the most effective classroom space would be an increase of around 1.3 sub-levels within the national curriculum. Students typically progress at a rate of around two sub-levels per year, and so this represents an additional gain of more than 50%.

In terms of what makes a classroom ‘well-designed’ in relation to learning performance, the three key areas were:

  • Individualization
  • Stimulation
  • Naturalness

Of the above, around half of the total impact came from the final element – naturalness. The key aspects of naturalness were air quality, temperature and natural light.

Positively for the teaching community, the report’s authors felt that many of the elements they have identified can be controlled and altered by teachers in the classroom. Small changes, which would cost little or nothing to implement, could have a large impact – for instance, changing wall colors, the layout of tables within the room and the posters etc. displayed on walls.

The full report has been published by Salford University and is available here: Clever Classrooms Report

This piece originally published on and is republished here with permission. 


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