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Extra Credit

Clever Classrooms and Learning

Thinking about your classroom design? Consider findings from the 2015 study “Clever Classrooms,” from the University of Salford Manchester in the U.K., which points to three classroom characteristics—naturalness, individualization, and stimulation—and seven significant design parameters within the three classroom characteristics, which can positively impact student learning in reading, writing, and math.


Light: Natural light creates a sense of physical and mental comfort. To make the most of sunlight, leave windows uncovered and use blinds to minimize glare or to diffuse light.

Air Quality: The report found a link between air quality and students’ performance with “computerized tasks.” To ensure your students breathe the best air, keep windows open and free from obstruction.

Temperature: Heat and humidity can increase student discomfort and decrease attention spans, which can cause achievement and task performance to deteriorate. Counteract these effects by keeping rooms cool, and using blinds and ventilation to combat the sun. Placement of shrubs or planters outside windows can provide shade and reduce the accumulation of heat from the sun.


Flexibility: Support different learning models by using your classroom space in creative ways. For younger students, create well-defined learning zones. For older students, create space configurations that are more simple.

Ownership: Research shows that personalized spaces are better for absorbing, memorizing, and recalling information. Showcase student work to create these areas, or label lockers or drawers with students’ names.


Complexity: To keep students focused and on task, maintain a moderate classroom design. How: Don’t overdo visual stimulation. Follow the rule of thumb that says 20 to 50 percent of  available wall space should remain clear.

Color: Keep colors at mid-level range, not too dull or intense. Create an accent wall and add flashes of color throughout the room.

To read the entire “Clever Classrooms” report, visit

Design includes seven significant factors, which impact learning in different ways. When these factors are combined, their importance increases—more support for the notion that space and design matter.

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