Evaluating Quality Learning Environments: A Case Study

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Evaluating the quality of a learning environment is a key component for understanding the value of architectural design and its functional performance on educational outcomes. Surveys are one means to address this challenge. The following study investigates how the quality of an elementary school learning environment can be evaluated through a post-occupancy evaluation (POE) survey.

In order to assess how the learning environment was performing from the building users’ perspective at Odyssey Elementary School, a POE survey was conducted during the Spring of 2015. The short one-month survey gathered a total of 275 responses that were comprised of students, teachers, administrators, maintenance personnel, and parents. The survey was designed to capture several different aspects of environmental quality. The present study focuses on four main areas of the survey and includes:

  1. Student perspectives of the learning experience
  2. Teacher perspectives of the instructional experience
  3. Student and teacher perspectives of the classroom environment
  4. Parental perspectives of their child’s academic performance

Major findings from the survey suggest that a flexible classroom environment has a positive and direct impact on the perceptions of students, teachers, and parents.

  • The survey revealed that the overall student learning experience was enhanced. Students also felt the layout of the school and classrooms fostered collaboration and made it easy to work in groups. Students largely believed the open and flexible layout improved student-teacher interactions. The design also helped students to pay more attention in class.
  • Teachers had similar responses. They felt student attention span increased and student-teacher interactions were improved. The design also enhanced their instructional experience and facilitated different teaching techniques. A large majority of teachers were not only satisfied with the design of the building, but they felt it provided quality learning experiences for their students.
  • Parents equally had positive responses. A majority of parents felt the school was preparing their child for the next academic year, and many had witnessed improvements in their child’s academic performance. Parents also reported that the design of the school was enhancing their child’s ability to learn. Nearly half of parents felt that the classroom design in particular was a key factor affecting their child’s learning experience and academic performance.

In the end, this study illustrates some of the impacts the classroom environment has on human perceptions to learn or teach. The results of the survey are relevant for designers, architects, educators, administrators, and policy makers who are concerned with improving academic performance through better educational design.

To read the full PDF research report, click here: Evaluating Quality Learning Environments

To read the original article, click here: Improving Learning Environments through Architectural Design

To learn more about Odyssey Elementary School, click here: Odyssey Elementary School

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