Designing for Student Performance
Whether it’s realized consciously or not, the configuration of a space can give students behavioral cues. For example, if a student walks into a room with spacious, plush seating arranged in a group setting, they might be more inclined to engage with each other upon entering.
Whereas when all desks are placed in a row, faced forward, this might lead students to walk in, take a seat, and wait for further instruction. If spaces can influence student behavior, then could they increase students productivity? In short, yes! While you can’t force performance, your environment can guide and influence it.
To do this, we see K12 schools questioning assumptions and seeking to better match the set and setting of their classrooms to the tasks that students are actively doing, which can increase levels of engagement and performance!
Technology Creates new Opportunities
Technology is changing the learning environment rapidly! We think there will continue to be compelling new tools that clients ask to have integrated into their spaces as they seek to remain relevant. For example, many computer labs aren’t needed any more as they’re becoming integrated throughout the entire school. With the exception of extremely specialized equipment, the computer lab is no longer the only space equipped with the latest technology. This allows school districts to get creative and offer a one-to-one ratio between students and technology.
Another implication of this trend is the decreased need for traditional libraries and book storage. With tablets, schools don’t need bookshelves or lockers nearly as much, and we see this trend continuing.
New Learning Models Require New Environments
School districts are quickly moving away from traditional learning models and actively looking to engage their students in fresh, meaningful ways. This looks different for every school, and it stems from the knowledge that in order to stay relevant, they can’t follow the same pattern they have in the past.
We see more customizations and district-specific design features that accommodate their style of learning on the horizon.
Some Things Can't Change
While it’s more fun to talk about new trends, it’s also important to think about what should not change. After all, the bedrock of any school is the building of relationships, and those interpersonal relationships have to remain at the core of education design. With a strong sense of community and connection, students and teachers can achieve great things! The built environment has profound effects on the way we interact with others, and while trends change and evolve, designers must remain focused on creating spaces that promote strong relationships and effective learning.