menu

Could Better Designed Schools Increase Student’s Performance?

Could Better Designed Schools Increase Student’s Performance?
culture

A new study from the UK says an institution's design can impact students grades by up to 25%.

Laura Feinstein
  • 10 january 2013

If you went to public school growing up, chances are you heard this urban legend: that in order to save money, the district had used the same floorplan for your alma mater as a nearby mental institution. While windows that barely opened, and oppressive overhead lighting all hinted that this wasn’t outside of the realm of possibility, the truth is many school planners simply were looking for function over form, and aesthetic pleasure is usually not at the forefront of their minds. However, in light of a new study that says school layouts can actually influence a child’s development by as much as 25 percent, perhaps school planners should be taking design cues from Architectual Digest rather than the federal government?

As part of a recent study, 751 pupils using 34 classrooms across seven primary schools in Blackpool, England were studied over the 2011-12 academic year by the University of Salford’s School of the Built Environment, and architecture firm Nightingale Associates. Data such as age, gender, and academic performance were collected on each of the attending children at the start and end of the year, while each classroom was rated for quality on ten different environmental factors, such as “orientation for natural light, shape, color, temperature and acoustics.”

At the end of the testing period, it became apparent to researchers that the architecture and design of the classrooms had a significant impact in influencing academic performance. Six of the key environmental factors — color, choice, connection, complexity, flexibility and light, were clearly correlated with either higher or lower grade scores.

Though anyone with common sense knows that a pleasant environment leads to higher productivity (a concept which has been promoted everywhere from the White House to Google), this is the first time a study like this had been conducted, successfully linking the impact of design directly to learning rates in schools. The results were particularly interesting over in the UK, where the government has introduced a controversial series of templates for building new schools, which focus on cost cutting over community-friendly design. At the risk of making architects everywhere recoil in horror, some of the standardized measures being enforced through these new templates include “a ban on curved walls and certain kinds of insulated wall and ETFE roofs, sticking to one size for windows and doors, encouraging stacking of blocks on top of each other, and an emphasis on ‘basic’ finishes to interior decorations like balustrades.”

As a result of these implementations, The Royal Institute of British Architects issued a statement criticising the “one size fits all” format that often stymies innovation in modern teaching environments. Other concerns raised include the fear that these new standard corridors would be too small for large numbers of students, that the environmental impact of the buildings would be higher than expected, and that the new templates would be inaccessible for students and teachers with disabilities.

While schools by their very nature tend to favor order and logic rather than extravagance, this standardization tends to make one think more of large hulking public housing projects, rather than an inviting educational institution. Though not taken into account in this study, one also has to wonder about the effects of design on drop out rates–after all, wouldn’t someone prefer to spend time in a comfortable atmosphere rather than one that already looks like a prison? While it’s a sad truth that necessary cuts need to be made to public building projects, at what point do we go too far? School is where most children spend the majority of their youth, and if these buildings start to look more like penal colonies than institutions for higher learning, just what kind of children will we be raising?

Building and Environment Study

culture
Trending

Turn Any Wearable Into A Mental Health Tracker

Fitness / Sport
Work Yesterday

Amazon Is Experimenting With A 30-Hour Work Week

The online retailer is launching a pilot program that will allow a technical team to work with a considerably shortened schedule

Fitness / Sport Yesterday

How The Rio Olympics Stood For More Than Just Games

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the finest moments beyond sports

Trending

Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Retail: Technology Primer

See All
Retail Yesterday

Mobile Travel App Embraces Cognitive Computing

The Orlando Tourism Board is looking to IBM Watson to provide personalized local recommendations for visitors

Automotive Yesterday

Bike-Friendly Apartment Building For Swedish Cyclists

A residential space is being designed for commuters to easily transport goods

Advertising Yesterday

Nike Takes Over An Entire City Block With A Giant Running Track

The Unlimited Stadium is shaped like a 100-meter sole print of the brand's LunarEpic sneaker

Gaming Yesterday

Fortune Cookie Service Brings Bad News To Your Doorstep

To promote their new delivery service Blackbox, the creators of Cards Against Humanity are delivering unfortunate messages in an edible form

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed august 25, 2016

Retail Expert: What Sustainability Means To The Millennial Generation

Jo Godden, Founder of RubyMoon, discusses how brands can limit their environmental impact worldwide

PSFK Labs Yesterday

New Mentorship Ecosystems Benefit All Levels Of An Organization

PSFK’s Future of Work report explores how technology is being leveraged to support cross-team communication

Arts & Culture Yesterday

This Picture Frame Could Be The Lava Lamp For A New Generation

Slow Dance makes real objects appear to move in slow motion

Work Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: How Will Companies Staff The Workplace Of The Future?

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX examine the ways that a people-first workplace might disrupt the job hiring process

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Airport Mural Puts Passengers In The Clouds

The installation in an Amsterdam terminal lets travelers float through a series of billowing 3D digital shapes

Automotive Yesterday

DevBot Is An Intelligent, Driverless, Electric Car

The unmanned test vehicle from RoboRace is a preview of upcoming AI race models

Augmented / Virtual Reality Yesterday

AR Ski Goggles Make Racing Down The Slopes Even More Immersive

Israeli startup RideOn weaves digital overlays into the thrill of skiing with an unconventional pair of protective eyewear

INSIGHTS COVERAGE

Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games
READ NOW

Advertising Yesterday

Japan Wants To Make 2020 Olympic Medals From Recycled Electronic Waste

The Tokyo Games could showcase the first-ever gold, silver and bronze awards made from discarded phones and computers

Culture Yesterday

This Small Town Has Become A Hide-and-Seek World Championship Destination

An old abandoned village in Northern Italy has become a massive playground for over one hundred competitive players

Design Yesterday

Garmin’s New Smartwatch Is Challenging The Luxury Market

The brand adds a premium version of its popular multi-sport trainer to its accessories collection

No search results found.