New Study Shows Impact of School Design on Grades

A new study out of England provides the first "holistic assessment" linking school design to learning rates. "[S]chool layouts can influence a child’s development by as much as 25 percent over the course of an academic year," reports Ian Steadman.
January 6, 2013, 9am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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In a recent post, we explored the debate over whether schools should be designed differently to prevent violence. And a few months ago, we looked at the UK Department for Education's ban on curved walls, glazed walls, internal partitions, and a host of other design elements in order to keep a lid on costs. A new study out of England should be added to the debate when calculating the tradeoffs incurred when schools are designed for any ends not focused of learning.

The results of a study conducted by University of Salford’s School of the Built Environment and architecture firm Nightingale Associates, published in Building and the Environment, "revealed that the architecture and design of classrooms has a significant role to play in influencing academic performance. Six of the environmental factors — colour, choice, connection, complexity, flexibility and light — were clearly correlated with grade scores," writes Steadman.

"Architect Peter Barrett, the study’s lead author, said: 'This is the first time a holistic assessment has been made that successfully links the overall impact directly to learning rates in schools. The impact identified is in fact greater than we imagined.' According to the results, once the differences between the 'worst' and 'best' designed classrooms looked at in the study were taken into account, it was found the be the equivalent to the progress a typical pupil would be expected to make over a year."

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Published on Thursday, January 3, 2013 in Wired UK
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