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Effects of school design on student outcomes

C. Kenneth Tanner (School Design and Planning Laboratory, Department of Workforce Education, Leadership, and Social Foundations, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 8 May 2009




The purpose of this study is to compare student achievement with three school design classifications: movement and circulation, day lighting, and views.


From a sample of 71 schools, measures of these three school designs, taken with a ten‐point Likert scale, are compared to students' outcomes defined by six parts of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS): Reading comprehension, Reading vocabulary, Language arts, Mathematics, Social studies, and Science. Data are tested through reduced regression analysis, where the difference between R2 of the reduced regression is compared to the R2 of the full regression. This result, in each case, is defined as the effect of the school's physical environment on students' outcomes represented by achievement scores on the ITBS.


Significant effects are found for Reading vocabulary, Reading comprehension, Language arts, Mathematics, and Science.

Practical implications

The study's findings regarding movement and circulation patterns, natural light, and classrooms with views have implications for designing new schools or modifying existing structures. They are especially important to school leaders, educational planners, and architects who engage in programming for educational facilities.


This study is part of original research efforts at the University of Georgia, USA. Since 1997, the focus of research in the University of Georgia's School Design and Planning Laboratory (SDPL) has been the measurement of the impact of the school's physical environment on aspects of affective, behavioral, and cognitive learning. All SDPL research has been quantitative in nature, where measures of the physical environment were compared to measures of student outcomes. There are two immediate values to these studies: educational leaders may use the findings to assess their existing school facilities and determine where improvements will have the greatest impact, or planners may use the findings to guide architects in the design and construction of new educational facilities.



Tanner, C.K. (2009), "Effects of school design on student outcomes", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 47 No. 3, pp. 381-399.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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