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‘Intentional design’ means taking into consideration how students learn when designing learning environments to enable their success. The following research looks at whether there should be learning goals associated with planned projects; if pedagogical goals were attached to completed school renovation projects; and how schools can be designed more intentionally.

Considerations in Construction or Renovation Projects

Including a pedagogical goal was listed as a consideration in completed construction or renovation projects for only 14% of respondents overall. However, 34% of respondents who say their school needs to be renovated in some way believe a pedagogical goal should be a consideration.

Considerations in Completed Projects by School Type

Sixteen percent of teachers from senior high schools indicated that accommodating a new pedagogy or curriculum was a consideration in a completed construction project, compared with 10% of elementary school teachers.

Considerations in Desired Projects by School Size

Switching to considerations that should be made in desired school construction projects, 46% of teachers from small schools think accommodating new pedagogy should be prioritized compared with 34% overall.

What Does an Intentionally Designed Learning Space Include?

Teachers who stated that a construction project is needed were asked what goals they would like to see associated with it. Considering their responses, future learning spaces should be designed with the intention of imparting certain educational goals like:

    • Accommodating different learning styles—like visual, aural, social, solitary, and physical learning.
    • Providing flexible learning environments—including the use of flexible furniture, collaborative spaces, and open environments, among others.
    • Accommodating the use of new technology—because teachers want modern schools that work at modern standards for technological and Internet accessibility.
    • Allowing for more STEM-related focus—such as labs, robotics, hands-on courses, maker-spaces, etc.
    • Supporting the arts/music—Teachers want to see the arts supported in their schools.
    • Supporting physical fitness/wellness—either through a gymnasium, playground, or more sitting/standing desk options.

Pedagogical Goal Attached to a Project

Nearly twice as many teachers who indicated their school needed a construction or renovation project believed it should have a pedagogical goal attached to it than those who actually completed a construction or renovation project in the past five years. It’s also significant that almost half of the teachers in schools with completed construction projects did not know if there was a pedological goal attached to it (48%). Does this indicate that teachers were not on planning committees or not aware?

Pedagogical Goals in Completed Versus Desired Construction or Renovation Projects

Interestingly, a large gap existed between most of the pedagogical goals associated with completed projects compared with desired goals in future projects, including the accommodation of different learning styles (40% versus 69%), allowing for more STEM-related activities (35% versus 61%) and supporting the arts/music (19% versus 44%).

Pedagogical Goals in Completed Projects by School Type

Senior high school educators were significantly more likely (27%) than middle/junior high school educators (15%) to believe there was a clearly defined pedagogical goal attached to the construction or renovation. Elementary school educators (54%) were significantly more likely than senior high school educators (43%) to not know if there was a goal.

Key Takeaways

Teachers want to see clear pedagogical goals associated with designed education spaces: Among the teacher respondents, twice as many teachers who indicated their school needed a future construction or renovation project stated that there should be a clear pedagogical goal attached to it than those who actually completed a construction or renovation project in the past five years. This indicates that teachers want to see intentionally designed learning spaces, knowing the benefits they can have toward student success.

Everyone involved should be thinking about space: Schools are no longer a place to “house” children while they learn—they are an integral part of the learning equation and can impact multiple aspects, from the school culture, to test scores, to attendance, and classroom management. Understanding the particular challenges of a school when embarking on a new design or renovation is critical to achieving the impact desired by the community.

About this Research and Methodology

State of the K-12 Market 2018: The Impact of Learning Spaces on Student Success, is based on an online survey conducted by MDR, with a nationwide sample of K-12 public school educators. Teachers and librarian/media specialists were sent an email invitation to take the survey and 1,685 completed it. Data collection occurred from May 24 through June 17, 2018. Respondents were asked if their school had undergone a construction or renovation in the past five years, or if their school has a renovation planned in the near future. If neither was the case, they were asked if their school is in need of a renovation. Throughout the report, how the respondents answered this question will be referenced for perspective. Nearly one-fourth of the respondents work in schools planning a renovation, over one-third reported construction took place recently, and nearly two-thirds believe their school needs construction or a renovation in the next five years. This points to the importance teachers place on having modern, updated learning spaces in which to teach. Learn more about MDR Education reports at