The holistic impact of classroom spaces on learning in specific subjects

Peter Barrett, Fay Davies, Yufan Zhang, Lucinda Barrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


The Holistic Evidence and Design (HEAD) study of U.K. primary schools sought to isolate the impact of the physical design of classrooms on the learning progress of pupils aged from 5 to 11 years (U.S. kindergarten to fifth grade). One hundred fifty-three classrooms were assessed and links made to the learning of the 3,766 pupils in them. Through multilevel modeling, the role of physical design was isolated from the influences of the pupils’ characteristics. This article presents analyses for the three main subjects assessed, namely, reading, writing, and math. Variations in the importance of the physical design parameters are revealed for the learning of each subject. In addition to some common factors, such as lighting, a heavy salience for Individualization in relation to math becomes apparent and the importance emerges of Connection for reading and of Links to Nature for writing. Possible explanations are suggested. These results provide a stimulus for additional finesse in practice and for further investigation by researchers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-451
Number of pages27
JournalEnvironment and Behavior
Issue number4
Early online date16 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


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