Researchers and classroom designers in Wales partnered to conduct a four-year study to examine the impact of classroom design on learning outcomes. After examining the behavior and performance of over 3,000 students in 153 classrooms, they discovered three factors of classroom design that have a strong effect on learning. Exposure to nature and natural light account for about 50% of an environment’s impact. Stimulation provided by resources and the suitability of the space for individual use each accounted for about a quarter of the impact. Altogether, studying in an optimal environment increased students’ learning gains by 16%.

Based on the results of the study, the researchers make recommendations to help schools design what they call clever classrooms: spaces that exhibit the environmental traits most conducive to learning. They help schools implement small budget-conscious design changes that can have a big impact on student performance. By proposing ways to implement design changes in the standard classroom, they allow teachers to see how they can make the most of the space they’re in without having to wait for large-scale renovations.

Have you experienced a positive or negative effect of the classroom environment on learning? Do you think these research recommendations can be implemented in schools outside Wales? Add your voice to the ongoing discussion on Vialogues.

Excerpts from the discussion

@02:47 Sara Hardman: This research reminds me of the Green School in Bali. Imagine the type of learning that gets done in this space. It breathes openness and flexibility.

@03:30 Carmen Cortez: It's remarkable to see that the natural environment can play such an important role in student outcomes. In addition to validating the need for nature-based learning spaces, the research can also speak to the need for additional outdoor learning opportunities.