How Classroom Design Affects Student Engagement
New data from ongoing Steelcase Education studies shows that classrooms designed for active learning—i.e., where physical space supports a focus on engaging experiences for students and faculty— have a significant effect on student engagement.
Improving educational outcomes is a nearly universal goal, but how to achieve it remains a focus of continuing research and debate.
The success of any student is influenced by many variables. Academic studies have investigated several of them, from socioeconomic background to internal motivation to the influence of different teaching styles. Still often overlooked or underemphasized is the role of classroom design.
Noteworthy studies have been completed in recent years that show factors in the built environment can affect retention, attention, motivation, learning and academic achievement, but there have not been reliable post-occupancy evaluations of how different classroom designs affect student success. To address this important gap, a team of Steelcase Education researchers, in collaboration with academic researchers in Canada and the United States, recently completed studies at four U.S. universities. A robust survey instrument, titled the Active Learning Post Occupancy Evaluation (AL-POE) tool, was developed specifically for measuring the impact of classroom design on student engagement. Engagement is widely recognized as a highly probable predictor of student success.
The results of the beta study and the following term’s aggregated data revealed that classrooms intentionally designed to support active learning increased student engagement on multiple measures as compared to traditional (i.e., row- by-column seating) classrooms.
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