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Report: Classroom Design Improves Student Engagement

Classrooms designed for active learning can improve student engagement, according to new research from Steelcase, a company that provides furniture for use in educational settings.

Findings of the study, which was conducted by Lennie Scott Webber, director of education environments globally at Steelcase Education and appeared in the peer-reviewed Planning for Higher Education Journal, include:

  • Seventy-two percent of students surveyed said that making their classroom more flexible improved their motivation to attend class;
  • Eighty-four percent of participating students said they were more engaged in classroom activities in a flexible classroom;
  • Seventy-two percent of students surveyed told researchers that they believed they would earn a higher grade in the flexible classroom;
  • Students rated the flexible classroom higher on 12 different measures of engagement, such as collaboration, focus, comfort with participation and active involvement; and
  • When measured, student engagement levels were higher in the flexible classrooms than in the traditional classroom with row and columns of desks.

More than 120 students at four institutions of higher education, including Ball State University and the University of Minnesota-Rochester, participated in the study. Findings remained consistent at all four institutions.

"At Ball State we've realized that despite all the many benefits advances in technology have brought education, our students still require a physical learning environment that compliments new technologies and supports new pedagogies to prepare them for the jobs of not just now but the future," said Gary Pavlechko, director of teaching technology, Office of Educational Excellence, Ball State University, in a prepared statement. "We've known anecdotally for some time that environment can positively impact our ability to create a more engaged and successful education experience. This research finally proves it."

To view a whitepaper with more details on the study's methodology and findings, visit

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].

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