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Does good classroom design lead to better learning?

Does good classroom design lead to better learning?

3 min read
  • The science of learning

Does having good classroom design have an impact on fostering an effective learning environment?

Research seems to suggest so. The design and layout of a classroom can significantly influence student engagement, motivation and collaboration, ultimately impacting academic success. So, let’s delve into this lesser-explored aspect of education, and discuss how it can impact your students and can be optimised to create an effective learning environment.

Read on to learn more about:

  • The impact of classroom design on student learning
  • Its impact on student well-being
  • Practical strategies to design your classroom better

Why is classroom design important for learning?

Classroom design is an integral part of Teaching & Learning, with research suggesting that it can influence student engagement, motivation and collaboration. In fact, one study found that classroom design could improve learning progress by up to 16%. The study identified seven key design parameters that best predict pupils’ progress:

  • Light
  • Temperature
  • Air quality
  • Ownership
  • Flexibility
  • Complexity
  • Colour

The naturalness factors, such as natural light and window views, were found to have the most significant impact on learning, accounting for around half of the overall impact. This was followed by individuality and appropriate levels of stimulation, each accounting for roughly a quarter of the impact.

These findings seem to suggest that a well-designed classroom impacts academic performance. In an environment that is visually appealing, comfortable and conducive to learning, students are more likely to feel motivated, engaged and focused. This then leads to improved concentration, retention of information and overall academic success.

The design elements, such as lighting, seating arrangement and organisation, all play a vital role in creating an optimal learning space. Thus, investing in a well-designed classroom might have long-lasting benefits for students and teachers alike.

Help your staff understand and apply the latest and most important Cognitive Science research.

The impact of classroom design on students’ learning

Let’s take a closer look at some key aspects of classroom design and explore their effect on students’ learning in more detail:

Seating and layout

Research suggests that teachers should assign where students sit. In fact, the authors of that study report that “disruptive behaviour during group seating occurred at twice the rate when students chose their seats than when the teacher chose. During individual seating, disruptive behaviour occurred more than three times as often when the students chose their seats.”

Our blog, The psychology behind a great seating plan delves deeper into this aspect of classroom design.

Lighting and colour

Studies have shown that the presence of natural lighting and the ability to access outdoor views can have a significant impact on concentration, mood and cognitive function. A strategic use of colours in educational settings can also play a crucial role in influencing students’ emotions and behaviour. For instance, cool shades such as blue and green have been associated with promoting a sense of calmness and enhanced focus.

However, some research suggests that too much colour and stimulation in classroom displays may lead to cognitive overload, where your students’ learning slows down and may even stop completely. By striking a balance between the two and incorporating these elements into students’ learning environment, you can create spaces that foster optimal learning experiences and overall well-being for your students.

Final thoughts

As the research suggests, investing in well-designed classrooms is not just beneficial for your students’ academic progress but also for their overall health and well-being. This may encourage schools to prioritise classroom design as an essential component of promoting student success.

A calm, organised and consistent learning environment that considers learning, behaviour and cognitive load can help foster a positive learning environment – and ultimately, promote academic success.


About the editor

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch is a Chartered Psychologist and a leading expert on illuminating Cognitive Science research in education. As Director at InnerDrive, his work focuses on translating complex psychological research in a way that is accessible and helpful. He has delivered thousands of workshops for educators and students, helping improve how they think, learn and perform. Bradley is also a prolific writer: he co-authored four books including Teaching & Learning Illuminated and The Science of Learning, as well as regularly featuring in publications such as The Guardian and The Telegraph.

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