Want to boost student performance? Redesign your classroom

by James Reid27 Feb 2015


A new UK study has shown that a well-designed classroom can boost student progress. Are there lessons here for Australian schools?

The Clever Classrooms report, released this week by the University of Salford in the UK, revealed that well-designed classrooms can boost primary school students’ progress in math, reading and writing by 16% a year.

The university’s research spanned three years and 153 classrooms across the UK.

The report cited factors such as natural light, temperature, air quality, colour and individualised classroom design as amongst the biggest physical contributors to students’ learning progress.

Professor Barrett, who led the research team, told the BBC that it’s only natural students respond well to “good natural conditions”.

"Humans are essentially animals, and their brains respond well to good natural conditions," Barrett said.

"We spent six months looking at that, but in reality it just doesn't come out. Why should that be? Well, I would speculate that in a primary school a child's classroom is their world.

"So, when you are designing a school, you have to make sure each and every classroom works," Barrett said.

John Coe, Chair of the National Association for Primary Education (NAPE), agreed with the findings. 

Coe said the research shows that daylight, temperature and air quality have the most influence on students' progress –  and that a classroom environment which is neither over stimulating nor unduly calming is best.

“Perhaps surprisingly, the findings indicate that the salient features of the whole school do not matter most to pupils," Coe said.

"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.”
 

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