Flexible Classrooms

In a study of 153 classrooms across the United Kingdom, the researchers found the strongest evidence to date to support the idea that flexible learning environments can improve academic achievement.

A large number of studies have been conducted to determine the impact of light, sound, and air quality on learning. Unfortunately, research on flexible classrooms has proven to be difficult to come by in recent years.

There are a variety of valid reasons for the high level of interest. Light and sound from nature are excellent examples of single-factor experiments that could be carried out in a laboratory setting. For example, assign subjects to a task and ask them to complete it in a room with plenty of natural light from windows. The same test should then be administered in a different room.

Complex and living systems are what flexible classrooms can be at their best. Flexible spaces can look very different from one another, especially when there are a large number of children and teachers using them. There is no stopping them from changing their furniture, adjusting the lighting, or rearranging things to accommodate a diverse range of personal preferences. It appears that flexible classrooms can be used to allow real children to circulate among themselves.

Although faced with numerous challenges, the University of Salford in the United Kingdom was successful in completing an ambitious project to investigate how lived-in classrooms are designed. This included taking a close look at elements that are difficult to define, such as flexibility. In total, researchers visited 153 classrooms in 27 schools across the country, ranging from small rural schools to large suburban buildings on the outskirts of London. They found that The final study, which included 3,766 British children aged 5-to-11, looked into the relationship between classroom design and academic performance in the classroom.

Using the example of Peter Barrett, who is now an honorary research fellow at Oxford University, the team explained that they were attempting to see the world from a more holistic perspective. In other words, we attempted to see spaces through the eyes of those who inhabit them. This isn’t just about the quality of the air. It isn’t just about the temperature. Alternatively, an attempt to measure each factor individually. It’s a combination of factors.


Three aspects of classroom design were investigated in this study. They were naturalness (as represented by factors such as temperature and light), stimulation (as represented by factors such as color and visual complexity), and personalization (factors such as student ownership and flexibility).

What is the most important realization? What is the most important realization? Personalized learning environments, including flexibility, which Barrett defined as “student choice within the space,” accounted for a full quarter of the improvement in student achievement.

Another way to look at it is this: when considered in isolation from other factors, classroom flexibility is just as important in improving academic outcomes as temperature, air quality, and light.

A key point raised by Barrett’s group was the importance of learning zones. They consisted of a reading area, a wet area, and space for whole-class participation. The team also took note of the unique shapes of the classrooms, which made partitioning the space easier. The findings of the study do not suggest any solutions. Instead, it provides a set of ambiguous guidelines. The American flexible classrooms, which are more individual than their British counterparts, were mentioned by Barrett, and he agreed with my observations.

Even the researchers were taken aback by a number of the findings. Some of the findings surprised the researchers, who were not expecting them. Barrett and his team hypothesize that students’ anxiety in math is better managed in classrooms that feel familiar and comfortable to them, although the exact reason for this is still unknown.

Certain air quality statistics were shocking to learn. According to a Harvard study conducted in 2015, higher-order thinking is impaired when carbon dioxide levels exceed 500 parts per million. The gas is produced as a byproduct of human respiration. Researchers found levels to be six times higher in the classrooms they visited consistently. That’s concerning—but it’s also fixable.

Barrett stated that even if the air quality is good at the beginning of the class, it will not be good by the end of the class unless something is done to improve the situation. It is a proven fact. You must open a window or door. You need to take action immediately.

The ability to be flexible in terms of function and form

What percentage of you believe that bringing new furniture into your classroom will improve student performance? Do Hokki stools or throw pillows have the ability to improve test results?


Barrett believes that at work, the adage “function follows form” holds for him. Flexibility in the classroom is more effective when it is combined with a shift in pedagogical approach. This is the conclusion that is always reached in teacher-led discussions at Edutopia. Educationalists are unanimous in their belief that flexible spaces change the fundamental dynamics of teaching and learning. They empower students by increasing their sense of control and responsibility, increasing their academic engagement, and undermining the traditional face-to-face approach to education.

Instead of the inertia of the furniture, such as the new coach in the center of the room or the standing desk near the window, it is the teacher and students who are dynamically using the space that is most important in the long run. If you don’t also change the way you teach, changing the layout of your classroom will not affect your students’ learning.

The conclusion: When flexibility is combined with other factors such as acoustics or air quality, it has the potential to have a significant impact on student performance. The use of flexible classroom designs, rather than traditional static classroom designs, can result in better academic outcomes for primary school children if they are done correctly.