Images and Student Opinions (04-29-21)

Devlin and colleagues evaluated how classroom images seen by prospective college students influence their opinions of colleges and universities.  Their findings are likely applicable both in this context and others. The Devlin-lead team found that when “participants read a scenario about a college too far away to visit and viewed a website picture of a seminar room (unrenovated or renovated) before responding to measures of classroom satisfaction and college academic life more broadly (e.g., student retention).. . . . Classroom status . . . significantly influenced estimates of first-year student retention . . . with higher estimates of retention for the renovated classroom.. . . images of the classroom environment can affect judgments beyond the classroom itself, including estimates of student retention and the quality of the faculty at the institution.”  The Devlin group also shared that architects knowledgeable about the renovation reported that “‘the original arrangement consisted of mismatched tables with one row of plastic chairs around the tables and another at the perimeter of the room. . . . The new configuration consists of a large oval seminar table surrounded by comfortable, flexible chairs.’” The Devlin team also shares that Douglas and Gifford in 2001 reported that three classroom design elements seem to drive classroom evaluations “a view to the outdoors, seating comfort, and seating arrangement.”

Ann Devlin, Alaina Anderson, Sarah Hession-Kunz, and Amy Zou. “Is a Picture Always Worth 1000 Words? Website Images of Classrooms and Perceptions of the Institution.”  Learning Environments Research, in press, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10984-021-09358-x