3 Evidence-Based Trends for Effective Learning Environments

As one of the fastest-growing learning environment companies in the USA, we’re always looking for the best ways to help school leaders maximize the potential of their spaces. Often referred to as “the third teacher,” learning environments have a major impact on both student outcomes and educator effectiveness. With concerns about learning loss and teacher retention at the top of leaders’ minds, creating impactful and engaging spaces is more important than ever.

Here are three science-backed recommendations for updating and elevating your school spaces.

Flexible Classrooms and Improved Outcomes vs. Traditional Classrooms

Traditional classroom layouts operate under the assumption that all students learn in the same way, which we know is not true. Flexible classroom solutions are all about improving outcomes for students by allowing them to choose a seat or desk that works best for their learning style. For those who need more movement, standing desks or active seating allow them to move without disrupting others. In a study in the American Journal of Public Health, 70% of parents of students using stand-up desks felt standing in the classroom had a positive impact on their behavior. Teachers reported students were more focused and could pay attention for longer.

Flexible classrooms can also help educators empower students to be involved in their learning. Moveable chairs and desks with multiple configuration options encourage collaboration between students and allow for more independent learning. Another article in the journal Learning Environments Research found students who used flexible classroom furniture were more satisfied with their learning environments than peers using traditional furniture. They also found flexible classrooms gave greater options for student autonomy and learning.

Take a 360° virtual reality tour of a flexible seating classroom.

Optimized Classrooms and Greater Focus vs. Cluttered Classrooms

Clutter can be a major roadblock to learning. Research from Dr. Sabine Kastner of Princeton University’s Neuroscience Institute shows our brains have a hard time blocking out clutter. Her studies show when we try to focus on one object while other objects are present, there is both a “push” effect toward the desired object and a “pull” effect from the other objects. The more distracting things in one’s environment, the more difficult it is for the brain to focus on the task at hand, which causes fatigue and reduces function.

Creative storage and organization solutions can help reduce the visual noise in your learning environments leading and lead to better outcomes. For example, a study from the University of Salford found that academic progress was higher for students in classrooms without overstimulating decoration and clutter. Cluttered classrooms can also be detrimental to teachers, who experience major disruptions to their day when limited storage options make finding supplies a long, frustrating process.

Solutions like Demco’s Show and Stow System, can transform cluttered spaces into distraction-free learning zones by visually reducing clutter and keeping essentials on hand.

Project-Based Learning and Better Engagement vs. Traditional Lessons

Unlike a traditional classroom with stationary desks in rows and a lecture-style “sit and get” instruction, flexible classrooms promote hands-on engagement and independent decision-making — a strong foundation for project-based learning. By creating collaboration zones throughout the classroom, educators can bring more unique lesson plans to their students and help them engage in more hands-on learning.

Lucas Education Research analyzed multiple studies and found that “rigorous project-based learning” is an effective way to improve student outcomes and teaching practices across multiple subjects and grade levels. With STEM jobs expected to grow by 11% by 2030 according to the Education Commission of the States, project-based learning is critical to preparing students for the world of tomorrow.



Learn more about Demco’s Makerspace and STEM solutions to spark curiosity and ignite learning in your classrooms.


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