An ambitious study of 153 classrooms in the United Kingdom provides the best evidence that flexible spaces can boost academic performance.
By Stephen Merrill
June 14, 2018There are plenty of studies that isolate the effects of light, acoustics, or air quality on learning. But the research on flexible classrooms is frustratingly scarce.
There are good reasons for the apparent lack of interest. Variables like natural light and acoustics lend themselves to single-factor experiments that can be conducted in a laboratory setting. Give subjects a task to complete in a room with ample windows, for example, and then administer the same test in a room without them.
But flexible classrooms are complex, living systems. One flexible space looks nothing like the next, and often dozens of children and one or more teachers operate within them, pushing and pulling furniture into novel configurations, dimming or turning up lights, and otherwise reshuffling things to suit an almost infinite variety of personal preferences. Studying flexible classrooms, it would seem, means circulating among real children.
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