Evidence-Based Design: The Student Engagement Index
Throughout my career I’ve experienced significant changes in the way we design educational facilities. New pedagogies have advanced the field of learning and, as a result, our design solutions. Today’s students are searching for more than a lecture to instill knowledge—they want to get their hands dirty and learn by doing. In response, DLR Group is designing flexible and adaptable spaces that allow for multiple learning modalities including hands-on learning, collaborative projects, and group work. But how do we substantiate the success of our designs?
I often hear stories of improved graduation rates, fewer absences, or higher levels of student achievement associated with 21st-century facilities. Regardless of these success stories, some districts still express trepidation in shifting away from a learning model that has been a staple of the educational experience in their community for decades. In fact, education clients are demanding proof that innovative design contributes to student success before they jump in and embrace that change. We are answering with empirical evidence.
DLR Group’s K-12 Education Studio is collaborating with research and data analysis experts to initiate a research project that helps our designers better understand ways in which the environments we design impact the learning experience. We set out to answer the question: Can we demonstrate that the design of the built environment for grades 9 through12 impacts student academic engagement levels? Initial findings of our Student Engagement Index indicate the survey instrument is both reliable and valid, and all responses correlated well with the respective engagement indexes, indicating convergent validity. The more the students see the design of their classrooms as providing for their needs—and the physical aspects as desirable—the higher their level of engagement. Respondents see a real effect of the design of the physical environment on their engagement in their teaching and learning.
Read the full study published in European Scientific Journal, or catch the highlights of DLR Group’s Student Engagement Index in School Planning & Management.
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