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Nine in ten students inspired by classroom design

Research from Steelcase shows space design inspires creativity in schools

Posted by Stephanie Broad | September 15, 2016 | Facilities & buildings

More than nine in ten students (95%) find a more flexible classroom design enhances their creativity and increases their motivation, according to new data from Steelcase Education. The research reaffirms the positive correlation between an active-learning classroom design and students’ ability to be engaged and creative. 

The research also found that 88% of students find new, flexible classroom designs increase their motivation to attend class and 84% of students feel that innovative classrooms would increase their ability to achieve a higher grade. 

Creativity as the basis of innovation 

The findings suggest that students taught in classrooms arranged in a more traditional style, with row-by-row seating and stationary furniture, could be failing to develop the skills they need for today’s workplace. 

A recent study by PayScale found that 60% of hiring managers said new graduates do not have the critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for the job. Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum found that students with skills like critical thinking and problem-solving, creativity, communication, and collaboration are better equipped to succeed in the evolving digital economy. 

Steelcase argues that Active Learning classrooms can help.

“Creativity is the basis of innovation, and that is what every company wants,' says Sean Corcorran, General Manager of Steelcase Education. 'Graduates need a depth of expertise in more than just one or two areas. They need to apply knowledge and collaborate across all disciplines and approach problems in new ways. Engaging spaces allow students to develop these important skills.”

Uncovering the myth of creativity 

“The first challenge in teaching creativity is changing the perception that it's purely an artistic endeavor,” says Henning Beck, a neuroscientist and author based in Frankfurt, Germany. “Everyone has the capacity to think creatively, to have an enquiring mind, to be inventive and resourceful. Artistic creativity refers to taking colours and putting them on a canvas and creating something new. But when the brain is creative it is doing more than just randomly applying paint on a canvas, instead it is target oriented.” 

Corcorran added: “The physical environment has a huge impact on behavior; we therefore need to rethink our learning environments. Give students and teachers the authority and ability to reconfigure their learning space to the work at hand. Inspiring creativity is a problem with multiple solutions. Not every solution will work for every institution or teacher. Innovation builds through a process of thinking, making things, sharing, listening and trying again. It requires an open mind and a willingness to experiment.”    

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