Traditional classroom design is out-dated and currently holding the UK back in educational standards. The early development of children could be notably improved by key design aspects in the classroom and circulation, due to improving a child’s concentration.
1.0 – Introduction
2.0 - The Effects of Lighting on Pupil Performance
2.1 - The Effects of Lighting on Pupil Performance: Section Conclusion
3.0 - The Effects of Colour in Classrooms on Child Development
3.1 - The Effects of Colour in Classrooms on Child Development: Section Conclusion
4.0 - The Effect of Space, Shape and Flexibility in Classroom Design on Pupils
4.1 - The Effect of Space, Shape and Flexibility in Classroom Design on Pupils: Section conclusion
5.0 - Executive Conclusion
6.0 - Bibliography
Environmental psychology concerns the environments interaction with the body/mind. It became a distinct form of psychology in the mid-1960s and is now recognised around the world.
This review examines literature with a direct relation to the effects of environmental stimuli on early education. Care has been taken to use credible empirical backed sources, ranging from 1954 to present day, achieving a breadth of knowledge from the past 71 years.
Many of the sources reviewed are informed by quantitative study conducted under strict control. Analytical and empirical data, gives credence to their theories and findings.
The abundance of research and information is largely un-used. As of August 2015, the number of top grades across the UK had dropped for the fourth year consecutively
posing questions into why the research isn’t used and whether it is a result of
how the government guides designers. A comparison has therefore been taken
between the established research and governmental design documents.
Three main areas have been chosen for study, each reflecting a particular aspect of classroom design. Lighting is crucial in any internal environment and could be categorised in the services area of construction. Colour is representative in the finishing of buildings and could be retro-fit into school environments. Space, shape and flexibility of classroom design are conceived at the early stage and control the classrooms function.
2.0 The Effects of Lighting on Pupil Performance
Lighting is an established factor explored throughout environmental psychology. Its importance is noted on all accounts in the literary articles based on its application within the educational setting. The notion gained support in 1999 due to a quantitative study by the Mahone Group. This created traction for the subject and built its case as an essential requirement (Mahone Group, 1999). Natural lighting in general is required in almost all case within the teaching environment (Mahone Group, 1999): (Tanner, 2009): (Marchand et al., 2014).
Tanner supported this, noting a 15% increase in mathematical learning speed and a 20% increase in reading skill in naturally lit classrooms (Tanner, 2009). This is a reduced figure in comparison to the Mahone study which noted children learning in predominately day lit rooms performed 20% better in mathematics and 23% in reading ability (Mahone Group, 1999). Both studies offer differing percentages in correlation to performance however a trend can be established as both point to data backed reasoning in the benefits of maximising day light in the classrooms.
Though day lighting is shown to be beneficial, further design aspects regarding the windows (the primary methods of achieving day lighting) are explored. Barrett, upon a quantitative study conducted in the UK, found natural light should be evident from more than one orientation with a clear emphasis of lighting from the southern façade, whilst ensuring the views outside are not compromised (Barrett et al., 2015). Tanner concurs but adds that art related classrooms should use northern windows which allow for constant natural light throughout the day (Tanner, 2009).
The use of windows can inhibit performance. The California Energy Commission found some of the classrooms with exceptional day lighting from predominately glazed walls were under performing against trend. It was discovered that these classrooms tended to receive high levels of outdoor noise and reverberation due to the acoustic qualities of glass (California Energy Commission, 2003.). Barrett can also be quoted as saying;
“Light has the highest impact on Overall Progress among other design parameters. However, window size alone was not significantly correlated with the learning progress. Only when the orientation and risk of glare was taken into consideration, could the pupils benefit from the optimum glazing size” (Barrett et al., 2015, pg 128), outlining the need for design consideration when specifying and placing windows as to achieve their intended effect.
Discussion then turned into artificial lighting. Research suggests there is no direct link with traditional fluorescent lighting and student health and well-being (Graetz and Goliber, 2002) which is currently used up and down the country. Barrett found during that ‘good’ artificial lighting is required (Barrett et al., 201), The definition of good isn’t explored but texts have offered examples of good lighting as being full-spectrum lighting, matching the wave lengths found in day light. (Graetz and Goliber, 2002):(Tanner, C, 2008)
The government provides an overview of these principles in building bulletin 90 and the EFA daylight design guide. (Department for Education and Employment, 1999): (Education Funding Agency, 2014)
The documents guide how to achieve natural light and minimise glare etc. without supporting why natural lighting is required. BB 99 for primary school design doesn’t mention the requirement for natural lighting even though there is an explicit section titled key design requirements (Department for Education and Skills, n.d.)
2.1 - The Effects of lighting on Pupil Performance: Section Conclusion
It is pronounced throughout the literary resources the need for natural lighting and good quality lighting in correlation with student performance. Governmental documentation shows how to achieve the lighting levels but doesn’t highlight its positives. With this in question why isn’t more of this adopted in main stream design? Without the legal obligation for high quality lighting and informed design, clients and councils are less likely to include research backed design philosophies in their proposals. This could be down to cost saving in providing large glazed facades with several orientations, poor awareness or poor site choice. Due to the site orientation it will be possible to apply all of the design principles found at an early stage in the New Meadows Primary School Project.
3.0 The Effects of Colour in Classrooms on Child Development
This topic is discussed throughout the literature in correlation with student performance with many sources offering different views (Engelbrecht, 2003): (Barrett et al., 2015). Barrett and co found that walls and carpets should be bright coloured but just off white, noticing a difference in overall pupil performance in relation (Barrett et al., 2015). Hunter and Engelbrecht found that warm, bright colours contributed to child development (Engelbrecht, 2003): (Hunter, 2008). Gaines and Curry found warm but not bright colours such as sand and beige to be the most effective (Gaines and Curry, 2011). This presents a problem when analysing the data, Engelbrecht and Hunter deduced this through secondary research as did Gaines and Curry using sources from the US. Barrett and co established their findings through a quantitative study conducted in the UK, giving more credit for its application in the UK.
Adding further depth, a study conducted directly into children’s favourite colours and responses, suggested designers use bright, cool colours with an emphasis on purple (Read and Upington, 2009). This conclusion was drawn through empirical research, showing red to be predominately a child’s favourite colour with purple a close second. Purple was advised due to It being, a mix of the warm red, shown to be children’s favourites and cool blue which works well with concentration. (Read and Upington, 2009). This plots it as a mid-point between the other literatures.
Colour is not as simple as picking a one shade fits all. Gaines and Curry argued the requirement for a selection of different colours based on the activity of the room (Gaines and Curry, 2011). An example of this is the effect of pink on a child’s motor skills, it is found to increase their strength and arousal (Hamid and Newport, 1989) in application this would be beneficial in physical education related rooms.
Though a general consensus on colours and their effects cannot be gained, Gaines and Curry argue an avoidance of colour produces negative effects (Gaines and Curry, 2011). This is loosely supported by Engelbrecht whom found the introduction of colour in classrooms reduced accidents by 28% (Engelbrecht, 2003). Conversely extreme primary colours causes over stimulation and in turn negative effects (Gaines and Curry, 2012).
Governmental documents give no formal guidance. The only mentions of colour refer to reflectance in regards to lighting (Educating Funding Agency, 2014). The BB99 briefly mentions colour schemes but indicates they should be standard across all rooms to allow for flexibility of use (Department for Education and Skills, n.d.)
3.1 The Effects of Colour in Classrooms on Child Development: Section Conclusion
Summarising, it is evident throughout literary articles that there is an effect on student performance/mood, generated by colours however the consensus is struggling to assimilate what the ideal for this would be. External variables could be contributing to this such as nationality or day lighting levels within the rooms, affecting the results. Several or one large quantitative study needs to be taken within the UK to provide an accepted ideal for early age classroom colour schemes. There are however transferable, accepted points such as the requirement of colour and the avoidance of over and under stimuli. The government doesn’t mention the requirement in its design principles for schools this is likely down to a consensus not being drawn. In general to move forward The Meadows Primary School, will use purple hues will be as this met the middle ground between the research articles.
4.0 The Effect of Space, Shape and Flexibility in Classroom Design on Pupils
For many years it has been the general idea that schools should be child size in scale as to represent the needs of the pupil (Caudill, 1954). Hunter explains this as a child’s method of understanding ownership and belonging to the classroom environment (Hunter, 2005).
Spacious design as a positive is found throughout the literature (Tanner, 2009): (Derr and Kellert, 2012). Tanner suggests overcrowding and density causes a negative impact due to the loss of personal space (Tanner, 2009). Lackney’s statistical data backs this theory, claiming spacious classroom sizes have been found to directly affect the performance of pupils, most evidently at early ages with improvements of up to 15% in mathematics and reading being noted (Lackney, 2007). Derr and Kellert find this plays on humans needs for openness and protection. (Derr and Kellert, 2012).
Although creating spaciousness is desirable negative impacts can occur if it creates social distance (Tanner, 2009).
Spaces need not be of one size, Lackney suggests smaller adjacent spaces which group around the main learning area which are differentiated between to allow for direct learning (Lackney, 2007).
Aside from the benefits of spacious design, interesting form and complexity plays towards a child’s development. (Lackney, 2007). Hunter surmises, that by providing aesthetically interesting walls and levels, pupil’s creativity is stimulated giving the example of curvilinear walls and edges (Hunter, 2005). Barrett and co found a contradiction/addition to this. Key stage 1 children benefit from varying floor plans and shapes whereas older pupils benefit from the order in traditional design, also finding over stimulation can occur if the form is too varied, negatively impacting a child’s performance. (Barrett et al. 2015)
Floor plans intertwine with the flexibility. Flexibility of the space can be facilitated through interesting floor plans, creating interesting spaces for younger children (Etemadi and Kia, 2005): (Barrett et al. 2015). This is furthered by Graetz and Goliber finding that although flexibility is desirable, unless it is evident that the space is designed with a specific task in mind, different usage can confuse pupils and affect collaboration. (Graetz and Goliber, 2002)
BB99 argues against the aforementioned findings. Whilst outlining flexibility as key, it promotes standard room types and shapes suggesting standard rectangular classrooms provide ease of monitoring (Educating funding Agency, 2014). Flexibility outlined in government documentation is aimed at future planning, allowing the room to be used differently in its entirety in the future (Educating funding Agency, 2014). In terms of spaciousness the BB103 recommends sizes but doesn’t explore the psychological importance of classroom size. (Department for Education and The Education Funding Agency, 2014)
4.1 The Effect of Space, Shape and Flexibility in Classroom Design on Pupils: Section Conclusion
Size and shape of classrooms have implications on student performance. Providing spacious rooms aimed at smaller class sizes offers a positive correlation with performance and results. Over stimulation is a key area to avoid, by providing balanced forms. The uptake in conventional primary classroom design is likely low due to the governments definition of flexibility as a means of future proofing the school as a whole not in a classroom basis. All of the principles discussed will be implemented into the form and functionality of classrooms within the New Meadows Primary School project.
5.0 Executive Conclusion
Throughout this review sources have been critically analysed to find accepted views and backed theories in the chosen sections. There is an evident correlation between the environmental stimuli and the effects on pupil performance, indicating the principles are essential in educational design. The government documents explored throughout are not legislatorial, acting only as guidelines for designers. Apart from the day lighting document, governmental advice is lacking in the colour scheme selection and the design of spaces within schools. By not producing advice on exemplary class room design, the government is inhibiting the application of this information. The application of the findings will be at the core of the New Meadows Primary School.
6.0 - Bibliography
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· Bonnes, M & Secchiaroli, G (1995). Environmental Psychology: A Psycho-Social Introduction. London: Sage.
· California Energy Commission, (2003). Windows and Classrooms: A Study of Student Performance and the Indoor Environment. [online] California: California energy Commison, p.10. Available at: http://www.energy.ca.gov/2003publications/CEC-500-2003-082/CEC-500-2003-082-A-07.PDF [Accessed 25 Nov. 2015].
· Caudill, William W. Toward Better School Design. New York: F.W. Dodge Corporation, 1954, p. 2.
· Department for Education, (1999). LIGHTING DESIGN FOR SCHOOLS. London: Uk government, pp.1 - 81.
· Department for Education and Skills, (n.d.). Building Bulletin 99: Briefing Framework for Primary School Projects. London: UK Government, p.21.
· Department for Education and The Education Funding Agency, (2014). Area guidelines for mainstream schools: BB103. London: UK Government, pp.1 - 45.
· Derr, Victoria and Kellert, Stephen R, (2012). Making Children’s Environments "R.E.D": Restorative Environmental Design and its Relationship to Sustainability Design. https://museogogreen.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/making-childrens-environments-red.pdf [Accessed 25 Nov. 2015].
· Education Funding Agency, (2014). EFA daylight design guide. London: UK Government, pp. 1 - 14
· Engelbrecht, K. (2003). The Impact of Color on Learning. 1st ed. [ebook] Chicago, Illinois: Perkins & Will Chicago, Illinois, pp.1 - 5. Available at: http://sdpl.coe.uga.edu/HTML/W305.pdf [Accessed 25 Nov. 2015].
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· Gaines, K., Curry, Z (2011) The Inclusive Classroom: The Effects of Color on Learning and Behavior . Journal of Family & Consumer Sciences Education, 29(1), pp 46 – 57. Available at: http://www.natefacs.org/Pages/v29no1/v29no1Gaines.pdf [Accessed 25 Nov. 2015].
· Graetz, K. and Goliber, M. (2002). Designing collaborative learning places: Psychological foundations and new frontiers. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2002(92), pp.13-22.
· HAMID, P. and NEWPORT, A. (1989). EFFECT OF COLOUR ON PHYSICAL STRENGTH AND MOOD IN CHILDREN. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 69(1), pp.179-185.
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· Kopec, D (2012). Environmental Psychology for Design. New-York: Fairchild Books.
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· Mahone Group, (1990) Daylighting in Schools: An Investigation into the Relationship Between Daylighting and Human Performance. PDF. California: Pacific Gas and Electric Company, pp.9 - 29. Available at: http://h-m-g.com/downloads/Daylighting/schoolc.pdf [Accessed 25 Nov. 2015].
· Marchand, G., Nardi, N., Reynolds, D. and Pamoukov, S. (2014). The impact of the classroom built environment on student perceptions and learning. Journal of Environmental Psychology, [online] 40(40), pp.187-197. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272494414000589 [Accessed 25 Nov. 2015].
· Read, M. and Upington, D. (2009). Young Children’s Color Preferences in the Interior Environment. Early Childhood Education Journal, [online] 36(6), pp.491-496. Available at: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10643-009-0311-6 [Accessed 25 Nov. 2015].
· Tanner, Keneth. (2009). Effects of school design on student outcomes. Journal of Educational Administration. 47 (38), 5 http://sdpl.coe.uga.edu/research/TannerResearchAward.pdf
· The Telegraph, (2015). GCSE Results Day 2015: top grades drop for fourth year in a row following efforts to fight grade inflation. [online] p.1. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/11814085/GCSE-Results-Day-2015-live.html [Accessed 25 Nov. 2015].
· Ziesel, J (2006). Enquiry by Design: Environment/Behaviour/Neuroscience in Architecture, Interiors, landscape and Planning. London: W.W. Norton and Company Ltd.
 Anything which excites an organism to partake in an activity.
 Refers to lighting distributed across a full spectrum without spikes
 Motor skills refer to action taken by arm, legs, feet or the entire body