Classrooms and their Impact on Performance

At 5 years of age, you experience the nerve-wracking first day of school. Dumped in a cafeteria or auditorium at 8 in the morning, on a cold fall day, with a bunch of strangers and creepy smiling teachers trying to comfort you. While some kids appear to be having the time of their lives on the first day of school some are terrified of being in this cold built environment and just want to go back to the warmth of their home. But why does this built environment feel so unwelcoming to a student? There are many factors that go into designing a school but does the design of a school and classrooms within that school affect the performance of a student.


You might ask how big of an impact does a classrooms design really have on our children; is this essay not worth the paper it is printed on? According to a study, conducted on 153 classrooms in 27 different schools, which adds up to approximately 3,700 students, changing some basic factors can increase a student’s learning by 16 percent. Another way education is measured is through sub-levels. A student is expected to advance through 2 sub-levels every year, with a well-designed classroom, a student can boost their progress by 1.3 sub-levels and not only does a classroom boost academic progress, but also promotes healthy well-being (Brain Flux).


One of the basic factors is creating a sense of ownership. It is essential to make a student feel as he belongs to the classroom by personalizing it for every student creating individualization.“When children feel ownership of the classroom, it appears the stage is set for cultivating feelings of responsibility.”(Barett) There are many ways in which you can bring individualization to a classroom. One of the most known ways that many teachers implements is hanging up students work. This not only creates a sense of ownership, but it boosts a student’s self-esteem which in turn boosts academic progression. The furniture in a classroom also plays a big role in developing ownership; Furniture should be easily manipulated by students to give a sense of control and power to the students along with accommodating to how class is conducted. Furniture should also be top quality and as comfortable as possible. Students who are in classrooms with ergonomic chairs perform better than those with traditional uncomfortable chairs. When arranging furniture, the goal of the class has to be taken into account.  Design of a classroom should be driven off your class goals. If most of your class is going to be collaborative work, it would not make sense to have your classroom set up in all single desks in straight rows, which has been proven to be detrimental to a kid’s development. Even if your class would not have a lot of group work, rearranging furniture into grouped configurations improves: focus, comfortability to participate, stimulation, real life scenarios, exposure to the material in different ways, active involvement and much more (Connecting Elements). A classroom should also have a unique feeling in regard to the subject being taught. A student should not have to walk into a math or science class and get the same feeling from the room as a reading/writing class. This feeling can be emphasized and distinguished through allowing students to individualize the classroom based on the subject. A Classroom also cannot be too large, how can a student feel individualized when there a bunch of other students surrounding them, it will feel like you can never be noticed. It is inevitable that teachers will have more one on one encounters with the students which will enhance their learning and keep students focused. A study shows that with smaller classrooms, students do better on standardized entrance exams (EF Academy). A classroom that is not individualized stifles creativity and stunts development (Hannah).


Another way to effectively achieve a sense of ownership is offering personalization of objects in classrooms such as lockers, tables, chairs, coat hangers, etc. In my personal experience my first sense of ownership in a classroom was developed through a system of cups within my table shared with approximately 8 other kids. My teacher, who I so vividly remember, once gave me a cup filled with school supplies: pens, pencils, crayons, glue, markers, erasers, scissors, etc. and told me to write my name on it. Then she uttered four words that rung around in my head: “this is your cup”. I played those words back in my head multiple times as I stared down at the cup. Everyone had a cup, but I thought my cup was the best. However, my lesson with these cups didn’t end there. At every table there was always a cup monitor that would alternate every month. The cup monitor would get the tray of the cups and give out the cups to the rest of his table. Everyone loved when it was time to get the cups because that meant we were going to do some arts and craft. Therefore, when it was my turn to get the cups, I had 6 pairs of eyes staring at me which felt really overwhelming but also made me feel powerful having the most valuable objects in my hands. Those plastic cups are the gold bars of 2005. I remember watching that Spiderman movie where Uncle Ben would say “with great power comes great responsibility” and couldn’t relate to it more than when I got up out of my seat to get the cups. This sense of community, trust, privacy, and responsibility helped me feel a greater sense of belonging and ownership in the classroom.


The second factor after individualism is naturalness which includes; light, sound temperature, air quality, and interaction with nature. These all have a direct effect on the emotional state of a person which then affects the behavior of a student (Veltri). Therefore, the number one priority when it comes to naturalness in a classroom is to minimize any form of discomfort that can be produced by the natural environment. When it comes to light the optimal amount of is still being researched but what we do know is that larger windows with less glare produced is most beneficial to students. The light should also create contrast with the colors in the room. It is found that bright warm colors create a better overall feeling to a classroom as opposed to cool colors or the basic off-white that many classrooms have. The more control you have over light the more comfortable you can make a classroom; A classroom should have effective blinds with lots of electrical lights with an array of control on how to manipulate the electrical lights to maximize comfortability. Temperature should be regulated by thermostat and heat from sun should be limited to once again produce a comfortable environment. When temperature was decreased from 25 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees Celsius students did significantly better on a standardized test in a controlled experiment (Barett). Large volumes of CO2 in a classroom directly affects the mental attention of students hence large functioning windows and mechanical ventilation is both a must for keeping students focused. Just like CO2, sounds can interfere with the mental attention for students which makes it best to limit any negative noises by building schools away from main traffic or busy areas and build it next to nature, which ties in with my next point which is having a natural view outside your classroom window is much better than a concrete neighboring building.


Ultimately, a classroom can drastically change for the better. I have been in many cold classrooms with off-white walls and desks with straight rows that made me want to run out of it. On the other hand, I’ve been in many warm and engaging classrooms that I was happy to spend my time in it. We have to ask ourselves how do we want our kids, who are the future of this world, to feel when they step inside of a classroom to learn. We should put most of our resources into insuring a well-designed classroom where children can thrive at their maximum potential and we could thrust this world into light years ahead of its time.



Works Cited

  • Barrett, Peter, et al. “The Holistic Impact of Classroom Spaces on Learning in Specific Subjects.” Environment & Behavior, vol. 49, no. 4, May 2017, pp. 425–451.
  • Hannah, Ryan. “The Effect of Classroom Environment on Student Learning.” Western Michigan University ScholarWorks.
  • Veltri, Sandra, et al. “The Community College Classroom Environment: Student Perceptions.” College Student Journal, vol. 40, no. 3, Sept. 2006, pp. 517–527.
  •  “How Classroom Design Affects Student Learning.” Smith System Blog, Smith System, 16 Dec. 2015
  • “How Classroom Design Affects Learning.” Connecting Elements. 2 Nov. 2016
  • Eric. “Classroom Design Affects Student Learning.” The Brain Flux, 6 Oct. 2015
  • “10 Benefits of Small Class Sizes.” Welcome to the EF Academy Blog, 21 Nov. 2017,