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You may have noticed for the last few months we’ve been sharing some interesting research by ‘MDR Education’ about how education spaces impact learning. Here we have grouped all the individual research pieces together that make up the complete research report ‘The Impact of Learning Spaces on Student Success’.

The findings of the report in its entirety are summarized as ‘Creative spaces featuring flexibility, a unique atmosphere, and inspiring aesthetics play an important role in student engagement. The classroom sets the foundation for innovative learning and must keep pace with technology and students’ varied learning styles to support their overall well-being, leading to greater engagement and academic success.’

Conversations concerning school environments and how space affects the learning process are happening nationwide: at conventions, school board meetings, and in the classroom. Modern design ideas about collaborative learning spaces and relaxed classroom structure have inspired teachers to make simple changes that can make a difference. Those interested in the intersection between space and pedagogy, how students react to different learning environments, and the opinions and experiences of teachers in the classroom, will find this report illuminating and useful in developing best practices for designing education spaces.

1. Research: Greater Student Engagement, Greater Probability of Success 

This research shows how a team consisting of a pioneering designer, a design educator, and a researcher worked together to ‘prove’ that the design of learning places matters by answering the question, “Does the design of the built environment impact student academic engagement success?”

2. Research: How Are Schools Planning and Funding Renovations and New Furniture?

This research looks at how school districts serving high density/high growth areas are keeping pace with the growing student population. It covers how often schools are undergoing construction or renovation projects, which type of schools, which areas of the school and where the funding is coming from.

3. Research: How Do Teachers View Completed School Renovations?

This research asked teachers who work in those schools where recent construction or renovations were completed to grade the outcome of the changes through various focus areas: the impact on school culture, student retention, student engagement, staff relationships, classroom management, and attendance.

4. Research: How Does School Design Impact Students?

This research reports on a unique opportunity where researchers were able to study whether environmental design does actually improve learning. Students’ own perceptions were documented regarding the effect new spaces had on their overall school experience, and the impact going to a newly built school (rather than an old one) had on their engagement in learning.

5. Research: Do Teachers Want Flexible Collaborative Classrooms?

This research shows the ranking of importance educators gave to certain features available in modern 21st-century classrooms. Features including multi-purpose spaces, connected learning areas that support movement, and student choice and a collaborative environment. It looks at those results across elementary, middle and high school Learning environments.

6. Research: Renovating Schools for Flexibility and Collaboration

This research compares teachers views on classroom renovations aimed at providing opportunities for flexibility and collaboration including adding chalk or whiteboard walls, creating collaborative work spaces and introducing flexible furniture. It compares the views between schools with completed renovation projects and those in need of renovation.

7. Research: How Often Do Teachers Change Their Classroom Configuration? 

This research looks at how often teachers change the configuration of their classroom. Configurations that include rows of desks for formal instruction, circular formations where class-wide conversations can be conducted, or clusters of tables allowing for small group collaboration or projects.

8. Research: Do Teachers Want Technology-Rich, Modern Classrooms? 

This research reports on how educators from elementary, middle and high schools feel about the incorporation of technology in their classrooms, and in schools where construction has taken place what technology modifications were made or included.

9. Research: What Do Teachers Think About School Sustainability Initiatives? 

This research explains how teachers rated the importance of certain school sustainability initiatives, such as room lighting features and the incorporation of outside views and natural light. It also looks at their their views around replacing or updating an aging school building and its infrastructure.

10. Research: New Learning Environments Support New Styles Of Learning 

This research shares an educators and a students direct experience of new learning styles in new environments and what happens when pedagogy meets an innovative learning environment. Their stories demonstrate how today’s spaces can create lifelong learners and prepare students for the future.

11. Research: Considering Pedagogical Goals When Designing Learning Spaces 

This research looks at whether there should be learning goals associated with planned school construction or renovation projects, and whether in already completed projects pedagogical goals were attached to them. It also highlights how schools can be designed more intentionally in the future.

12. Research: How Satisfied Are Educators With School Renovation Projects

This research asked educators if and how intentionally planned school construction or renovation projects were evaluated. Criteria for evaluation included: qualitative assessments, the retention of existing staff and faculty, research/feedback surveys, and performance testing results.

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 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