Everyone learns better in the right environment. We´ve invested in new classrooms and equipment to create light and airy spaces that are a pleasure to learn in. We have 6 modern, clean classroom equipped with TV and air conditioning units and a small patio with a vegetable garden.
The Importance of School Facilities in Improving Student Outcomes
A growing body of research has found that school facilities can have a profound impact on both teacher and student outcomes. With respect to teachers, school facilities affect teacher recruitment, retention, commitment, and effort. With respect to students, school facilities affect health, behavior, engagement, learning, and growth in achievement. Thus, researchers generally conclude that without adequate facilities and resources, it is extremely difficult to serve large numbers of children with complex needs.
The Impact of Facilities
Improving the quality of school facilities is an expensive undertaking. However, when the positive impacts of facility improvement on teachers and students are translated into dollar figures, the rewards of such investments far outstrip the cost of the investments. There are five primary facets of school facilities: acoustics/noise, air quality, lighting, temperature, and space. These are addressed below.
Noise levels greatly affect teacher and student performance. In fact, excessive noise causes dis-satisfaction and stress in both teachers and students. Research has found that schools that have classrooms with less external noise are positively associated with greater student engagement and achievement compared to schools with classrooms that have noisier environments. Thus, building schools that buffer external noise from classrooms can improve student outcomes..
Indoor air quality is also a concern because poor air quality is a major contributor to absenteeism for students with asthma. Research also indicates that many schools suffer from “sick building syndrome” which affects the absenteeism and performance of all students. Moreover, bacteria, viruses, and allergens that contribute to childhood disease are commonly found in schools with poor ventilation systems.
Indoor pollutants are also emitted from office equipment, flooring materials, paints, adhesives, cleaning products, pesticides, and insects. All of these environmental hazards can negatively affect children, particularly in schools with poor ventilation systems.
Before the advent of cheap electricity, schools often relied on natural lighting. As electric power costs declined, the amount of artificial light used in schools increased. Research has shown that artificial lighting has negative impacts on those in schools while natural lighting has positive impacts. In fact, research has shown that not only does classroom lighting boost the morale of teachers and students, appropriate amounts of natural lighting also reduces off-task behavior and improves test scores. One study found that students with the most exposure to natural daylight progressed 20% faster in in math and 26% faster in reading than students who were taught in environments with the least amount of natural light.
One consistent research finding across individuals of all ages is that the temperature in which a person works affects engagement levels and overall productivity—including student achievement. Anyone that has worked in a classroom or office that is too hot or too cold knows how difficult it can be when trying to work when the temperature is uncomfortable. According to the best analyses, the ideal temperature range for effective learning in reading and mathematics is between 68º and 74º.
To maintain such a temperature in every classroom within a school, teachers typically need to be able to control the temperature in their own classroom. At the very least, teachers should be able to control the temperature of small blocks of classrooms that receive the same amount of sunlight and have similar exposures to outside temperatures.
Overcrowded classrooms—and schools—have consistently been linked to increased levels of aggression in students. Overcrowded classrooms are also associated with decreased levels of student engagement and, therefore, decreased levels of learning.
Alternatively, classrooms with ample space are more conducive to providing appropriate learning environments for students and associated with increased student engagement and learning. Classroom space is particularly relevant with the current emphasis on 21st century learning such as ensuring students can work in teams, problem solve, and communicate effectively. Classrooms with adequate space to reconfigure seating arrangements facilitate the use of different teaching methods that are aligned to 21st century skills. Creating private study areas as well as smaller learning centers reduces visual and auditory interruptions, and is positively related to student development and achievement.
Policymakers, educators, and business people are now focused on the need to ensure that students learn 21st century skills such as teamwork, collaboration, effective communication, and other skills. As noted above, older buildings simply are not conducive to the teaching of 21stcentury skills. This is particularly true with the respect to reconfiguring seating arrangements to facilitate various modes of teaching and learning and the use of technology in the classroom as a mode of teaching and learning.