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How Does School & Classroom Design Affect Learning?

by Tabitha Loose on February 16, 2022

Classroom design is often thought of in terms of aesthetics, but it can also have a significant impact on how pupils learn. Think about the last time you were in school. What did your classroom look like? For many people, their memories of school are filled with stark, white classrooms with rows and rows of desks. But is this really the best way to learn? Recent studies have shown that the design of your learning environment can have a big impact on your ability to learn.

In this blog post, we'll take a look at some of the different factors that affect learning in school and how classroom design can play a role in it. So, whether you're a pupil or child yourself, or you're just curious about how school design works, keep reading for some interesting insights!


Hidden Factors That Affect Learning & Classroom Design

Before we dig deeper into how classroom design can affect learning, let's take a look at some of the factors that might be affecting your ability to learn in school:

The proximity and number of distractions in your classroom. A messy and cluttered environment will certainly be distracting for pupils and will prevent them from focusing on the lesson.

The colour of your classroom walls and furniture can affect your ability to learn as well. The right colours, such as soft yellow or grey, can actually help stimulate relaxation and lower stress levels. However, some bright colours like pink have been shown to increase a pupil's arousal level which can lead to distraction.

The number of people in your classroom might also affect the ability to learn. For example, research has shown that larger classrooms make it more difficult for pupils to pay attention and be involved in the lesson.

Different Classroom Designs & How They Affect Learning

Now let's take a look at some layouts of different learning environments and how they affect the ability to learn.

1) The "Traditional" Classroom

The traditional classroom is one that you've probably seen many times before. It's a long, rectangular room with rows and rows of desks. The teacher stands in front of the class and delivers their lesson while pupils take notes or memorise the information they're being taught.

2) Inquiry-Based Learning Classroom

In an inquiry-based learning classroom, pupils work in groups or pairs and answer open-ended questions that aren't necessarily tied to a specific chapter from their textbook. Because the class doesn't follow a strict lesson structure, it's been shown to promote more creativity and problem-solving.

3) Project-Based Learning Classroom

Project-based learning is focused on hands-on activities that encourage students to solve real problems. A project might involve researching a company, interviewing their employees or writing about the history of your town. Pupils are then required to share what they've learned with the class using various methods, such as a written report, speech or PowerPoint presentation.

Classroom Design & Its Effect on Pupils

All of these different learning environments have been shown to affect the ability to learn in different ways. For example, inquiry-based learning has been shown to promote more active thinking and problem-solving which can help pupils better retain the information they're being taught.

Project-based learning has been shown to encourage more creativity and critical thinking which is great for preparing pupils for the future. The downside of project-based learning is that it's very time-consuming, so it might not be possible in every school system. Traditional classrooms have been shown to encourage memorisation rather than problem-solving, even though those two things are often used interchangeably.

Different School Designs & How They Affect Learning

So far, we've only talked about classroom design, but what about the layout of a whole school?

1) Open-Plan School

An open-plan school is one with large halls and few doors separating classrooms. There's also little or no privacy for pupils as they're surrounded by other students and staff members who can easily interrupt them.

2) Corridor School

A corridor school is one with several hallways that are lined on both sides by classrooms. Pupils have to walk down each hallway to access the different classrooms, which provides them with more privacy but can also be distracting if there are students or staff members speaking loudly near the classrooms.

3) Cluster School

A cluster school has the same layout as a corridor school, but with one major difference. Pupils are placed in groups at different tables for every subject they study, including lunch. This means that each pupil is surrounded by peers who can influence their behaviour and make it difficult to pay attention during the lesson.

School Design & Its Effect on Pupils

By now, you've probably guessed what the main difference is between each school design. In a corridor or cluster school, pupils have to share their classroom with other students and staff members while in an open-plan school they don't. This makes open-plan schools the superior choice for teachers, but it also has some downsides. For example, pupils who are easily distracted might find it hard to pay attention in open-plan schools because there are always other students speaking near them.

The Importance of Classroom/School Design

Classroom design is important for three main reasons.

First, pupils are more likely to learn if they're in a comfortable environment because they're less distracted.

Second, different environments are better for promoting different types of learning.

Third, classroom design can affect pupil behaviour, which is great for teachers who want to keep their students under control.

So, if you want to help your pupils learn and behave better, you should consider the kind of classroom design that might be more beneficial for them. This can be partially or individualised by placing pupils into different groups for certain subjects.


It's evident that classroom design can have a big effect on pupils. The various types of learning environments are great for promoting different kinds of thinking, which is useful for preparing children to function in the real world. So, if you're a teacher, don't forget to consider classroom design when choosing how you want your pupils to learn. Hope this article will help you in some ways. Thank you for reading this article.