Kinnarps presents a study on classroom working environments

How can you impact teaching and learning in a classroom using furniture and interior design? In a new study carried out by Kinnarps, teachers and pupils participated in creating an entirely new, activity-based classroom.

Pupils and teachers in workshop with Kinnarps regarding their new learning environment.

It is a given that classrooms are important working environments. But how can they be designed to create the best possible conditions for teachers and pupils alike? The classroom study of the Prolympia independent school in Jönköping was conducted with the help of Kinnarps' Next Education learning environment analysis. In collaboration with teachers and pupils in year 8, the current classroom environment was studied in depth – in particular, how the physical environment and specific products impact daily work and how this can be improved. The results have been presented in the "Classroom Environment" study, which also evaluates the classroom interior design. 

An environment that supports teaching

"A well-designed classroom is one that gives each pupil the opportunity to learn, develop and reach their full potential, on their own terms and according to their own needs. Classroom environments must support and facilitate learning and teaching in all activities, whether it be working independently, group work or presentations. Such classrooms cannot be designed using a one-size-fits-all template but rather with the operation's and individuals' needs in mind. This is why we analysed work methods, activities and the physical classroom environment", explains Anders Larsson, Next Concept Manager at Kinnarps.

An environment that supports teaching

"The new chairs have been of great importance. Half the class is boys, most of whom are around 180 cm tall. I see that they sit comfortably on their chairs now and that they can finally focus on working. My impression is that they find it easier to concentrate and that they take in information better."

Dana Johansson, teacher of Swedish and English, year 8, Prolympia

The analysis showed that pupils and teachers alike wanted something other than the existing interior design, which consisted of traditional classroom furnishings with desks in rows facing a whiteboard. Most of them found the classroom boring and uninspiring.

"They felt the interior design lacked variation and was inflexible, with no opportunities to stand up and work. There was also a lack of good seating, not only in the form of comfortable chairs at the right height, but also soft seating," says Anders Larsson.

The insights gained from the preparatory analysis were translated to situational classroom furnishing. The test classroom and adjacent hallways and group rooms were given an entirely new design and new furnishings. The classroom was furnished in zones with furniture supporting various activities. The furniture was also flexible to allow for change based on needs. The interior design contained solutions for sitting and standing work with soft seating and practical storage. After five months, qualitative interviews were conducted with teachers and pupils. These showed that the new classroom furnishings were having the intended effect.

"The furniture is great from a teaching perspective, especially for group work. One major benefit is that the tables can be easily divided and placed in different constellations. The pupils want to be in the classroom. They are happy and collaboration has increased. Everyone can find a place where they feel safe," says Dana Johansson, teacher of Swedish and English.

Her colleague, Martin Salomonsson, agrees.

"If I got to choose, all classrooms would be like this. It is flexible and adapted to various teaching situations. I can move around more in the new classroom, and my impression is that my pupils are more on their toes. It brings me closer to my pupils and I'm able to stop negative situations before they arise."

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