Many Aspects of the Educational Environment Can Have a Profound Impact on Teaching and Learning

Quality of Lighting — Lighting has a demonstrable effect on student learning outcomes, with daylighting offering the most positive effect.

Acoustics/Ability to Hear — Chronic noise exposure hinders cognitive functioning and impairs pre-reading and reading skills.

Use of Color — Humans receive 80 percent of their information from the environment. The perception of color in the environment always carries with it visual, associative, synaesthetic, symbolic, emotional and physiological effects.

Air Quality — Scientific evidence has long demonstrated an association between poor IAQ and respiratory health effects, including asthma. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, asthma is one of the leading causes of absenteeism. Multiple studies have found that overall performance decreases with illnesses or absences.

Proper Maintenance/Green Cleaning — Maintenance issues in facilities, such as insufficient cleaning or excessive use of cleaning chemicals, have been show to trigger asthma and allergies.

Flexible Space/Flexible Furnishings — Classrooms with more functional flexibility allow instructors to vary their instructional methods to accommodate various learning styles. Flexible furniture and fixtures enable a space to be quickly reconfigured as activities change or to support a range of activities simultaneously.

Use of Technology — The National Education Technology Plan (NETP) recognizes that technology is at the core of virtually every aspect of our daily lives and work, and we must leverage it to provide engaging and powerful learning experiences.

This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of College Planning & Management.

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