The workplace is not the only setting changed by the ongoing effects of Covid-19; universities are also undergoing massive transformations to better equip students for this new world. Thankfully, manufacturers like Herman Miller are at the forefront of educational research and are engineering new products to meet the needs of modern students. One of the most noteworthy concepts to come out of their research has been the notion that classrooms should more closely resemble a “learning studio.” A learning studio is an educational environment that promotes diversity, inclusivity, flexibility, and collaboration. Here are some of the features of a learning studio that ensure you are changing the educational landscape for the better.
Having tiered furniture means that the furniture is not all one height, as to have only one line of sight to the classroom’s focal point. For example, a tiered classroom could have the furniture closest to the professor’s podium be lowest to the ground, the furniture in the middle of the classroom be mid-height, and the furniture farthest from the professor’s podium be at a bar-height. The variety of postures and visibility gives students the freedom to choose what works best for their individual learning style, making the classroom more productive and inclusive.
Studies have shown that collaboration among peers leads to higher-level thinking and increased student retention. Therefore, it is important to design spaces with breakout areas that allow students to interact with both the material and each other. This can take the form of lounge seating, communal tables, etc.
Mobile furniture is an important consideration in a learning studio because it enables faculty and students to adapt the furniture to their unique needs at a given time. For example, mobile furniture can be moved to create a lecture-style classroom for the first half of the period and a Socratic seminar for the second half.
Studies have also shown that exposure to natural light “improves student test scores, attendance and behavior.” Though not every classroom can have floor-to-ceiling windows, it is important to capitalize on whatever natural light you do have available and position furniture in a way that is not too obstructive.
Universities who have adopted “learning studios” with the aforementioned features have seen enormous leaps in student learning and well-being. Herman Miller reported that within a learning studio, students were “16% more likely to ask questions, 28% more likely to be able to conduct group work, 20% more likely to feel the classroom presents the appropriate image for the school, and 22% more likely to feel valued.” These are staggering statistics that demonstrate the benefits of changing the educational landscape.
Interior Motions, in collaboration with Herman Miller, has completed numerous university projects and we look forward to further expanding into the field of education with upcoming projects for Merritt College and Contra Costa College.
Also read: The Interior Motions Approach