Committee on Architecture for Education


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The Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) is a large and active group of architects and allied professionals concerned with the quality and design of all types of educational, cultural, and recreational facilities.

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Learning Environment Studies

  • 1.  Learning Environment Studies

    Posted 08-24-2018 13:08
    Does anyone have any resources (studies, articles, books) that relate to the idea that condition of a classroom room affects the academic success of the students?

    I have recently started working in small, rural school districts with buildings that are 60+ years old, some of them literally crumbling.  However, when trying to garner public support for a new building, addition, and/or renovation, we have met resistance that based on the idea that building is "good enough."  I would like to arm myself with some knowledge that school administrators can use as talking points.


    Paul Breiner AIA
    Project Architect
    Ackerman Estvold
    Minot ND

  • 2.  RE: Learning Environment Studies

    Posted 08-27-2018 17:33
    You should join the AIA Committee on Architecture for Education. There are numerous ways to participate but I would suggest you attend our fall conference in Tampa, November 6-9. The knowledge opportunities and networking will be of great value for you. Also, it is a lot of fun!
    2018 AIA CAE Chair

    J. Stuart Pettitt, FAIA
    Straub Pettitt Yaste Architects
    Clawson, Michigan

  • 3.  RE: Learning Environment Studies

    Posted 08-27-2018 17:36


    There are a number of studies and white papers that speak to the impact of the learning environment on learners and educators.  I am attaching the ones I've found thoughtful and encourage you to make contact with the people responsible for the content.   Good luck! Those rural communities can be both resistant and responsive.  I can tell you that I have had great experiences with some rural schools because they do facility upgrades so seldom they feel the need to "do it right" when they do.  I've also had not so positive experiences when they believe "it was good enough for me, my parents, and my grandparents and its good enough for the children today".  I often wonder if you asked them if they were willing to be treated in a health care environment with methods that had not changed in 60 or 100 years if they would feel the same.  I doubt it.




    Roger D. Richardson, AIA, REFP



    1840 West Broad Street, Suite 400
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    804.545.7467 DIRECT

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  • 4.  RE: Learning Environment Studies

    Posted 08-27-2018 17:42
    Greetings Paul,

    A good place to start is the Department of Education's ERIC database.  (  I just searched the site using the search criteria (classroom physical condition) and got quite a few hits.  The best sources will be ones that have been peer reviewed.  This means that all the data being reported has been verified by outside reviewers.  Here are a couple sources that might be worth your time chasing down:

    Students' Perception of the Condition of Their Classroom Physical Learning Environment and Its Impact on Their Learning and Motivation
    Asiyai, Romina
    College Student Journal, v48 n4 p716-726 Win 2014

    Psychology of Learning Spaces: Impact on Teaching and Learning
    Granito, Vincent J.; Santana, Mary E.
    Journal of Learning Spaces, v5 n1 p1-8 2016

    Using a different search criteria (School Physical Condition) I came across this one that one isn't peer reviewed but looks promising and a good place for you to start:

    The Impact of School Buildings on Learning. Information Capsule. Volume 1204
    Blazer, Christie
    Research Services, Miami-Dade County Public Schools

    This one is downloadable and has a good bibliography at the end.

    Best Regards


    Kevin Kemner Assoc. AIA
    Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects
    Sparks NV

  • 5.  RE: Learning Environment Studies

    Posted 08-28-2018 21:31
      |   view attached
    I just read a research study regarding how classroom design affects the academic progress of kids ages 5-11.  This study was conducted in England, so the curriculum is a bit different, but it examined 10 environmental design factors that have a significant role in how children progress from the beginning to the end of the school year.  The study has a fairly good range of building age (one going back to ca. 1880) but does not indicate condition quality such as "poor" or "excellent".  But it does correlate factors such a lighting, air quality, visual stimulation (color and complexity), ownership, flexibility, and links-to-nature with performance.  It identifies which classroom design factors are most effective for performance in three areas of academics: reading, writing, and math.  It concludes that these factors combined may have as much as a 10% impact on improving performance progress and cites another study concluding the impact may be as much as 16% on performance progress.


    Michael S. Nowak, AIA, NCARB, CPHC, NCIDQ
    Ph.D. Candidate
    Department of Architecture
    Pennsylvania State University
    107 Stuckeman Family Building
    University Park. PA 16802

  • 6.  RE: Learning Environment Studies

    Posted 08-29-2018 17:34
    Can you please reference the study so we can read it as well?

    Brad McKenzie, AIA
    Assistant Director of Business Operations
    Project Architect

  • 7.  RE: Learning Environment Studies

    Posted 08-30-2018 17:25

    I believe he is referencing the Clever Classroom study our of Salford UK by Professor Peter Barrett  I would also point you to the ILETC (innovative Learning Environments for Teacher Change) which is doing amazing work on this topic out of Australia and New Zealand.


    B. Karina Ruiz, AIA|LEED BD+C



    BRIC Architecture, Inc.

    Building Relationships | Inspiring Communities


    1233 NW Northrup Street, Suite 100

    Portland, Oregon 97209

    o: 503.595.4900

    d: 503.595.4905

    c: 503.913.1243

    t: @ruizpdx




  • 8.  RE: Learning Environment Studies

    Posted 08-30-2018 23:11
    Yes, I think Karina is right. This study by Barrett et al. is one of very few thorough, comprehensive investigations of the impact of classroom built environments on learning.

     Here's the peer reviewed publication form of the same study Karina linked us to:

    Barrett, P., Davies, F., Zhang, Y., & Barrett, L. (2015). The impact of classroom design on pupils' learning: Final results of a holistic, multi-level analysis. Building and Environment, 89, 118-133. doi: 10.1016/j.buildenv.2015.02.013

    Daniel Lamoreaux, PhD
    School Psychologist
    Marana Unified School District
    Tucson, Arizona