Design can support learning (and remembering!) new material, whether we’re at work, at school, or somewhere else entirely. Using in practice what neuroscientists have unearthed makes “lessons” more productive and positive educational outcomes more likely.
Altenburger studied how students experience safety-related design features at their schools. She shares that her “ethnographic case study examines how a school building designed to promote both student engagement and safety supports school practices that prioritize minimizing risk. . . . Student voices focus on the connotations of a tall fence and alarmed doors that deny the teenagers' access to exterior circulation and social spaces. The author found educators embracing crime prevention through environmental design strategies to enforce a closed campus policy.
Rahal, Wells, and Evan’s research confirms the value of locating schools in greenspaces. The investigators report that they “examined the [relationship between] school greenspace . . . and a standard literacy enrichment program . . . over a one-year period for a large sample of ethnic minority (95%) elementary school children . . . attending predominantly low-income schools . . . throughout the state of California. . . .
Design daycare centers for grades later
A team from UCLA has confirmed that, to some extent, our knowledge is linked to place; their work is published in Science of Learning.
Bhat and associates evaluated the effects of standing on cognitive performance.
Johnson and Jabbari link the overt presence of school security systems to lower academic performance.
Van der Groen and colleagues link sensory experiences and learning outcomes.
Faur and Laursen link classroom seat locations and friendships via a study whose findings are consistent with much prior research.
Spaces for learning need to be carefully designed and managed—our brains perform much better in some places that others and our tired heads need opportunities to refresh if they’re going to continue to develop knowledge and skills. Applying what neuroscientists have learned about design-learning connections makes “lessons” more productive and positive experiences more likely.