Learning Ambiance

Linking Modernized Schools to Higher Achievement 8

Learning ambiance is a way of thinking about the experience of the learning environment, and asks the questions: Is the environment visually appealing, orderly, well-maintained, and comfortable, or is it chaotic, haphazard, poorly maintained, and/or monotonous? As this study demonstrated, large-scale modernization efforts have considerable opportunity to create a positive learning ambiance, but when carefully planned, even smaller-scaled interventions in existing buildings can have a notable impact. As updates to a school building frequently occur incrementally over time, these smaller changes can either enhance or detract from the learning ambiance. Accordingly, even in the absence of a large-scale modernization effort, school districts can take incremental steps to enhance their schools’ interiors and thereby have a positive impact on teaching and learning through smaller, more targeted investments in the fixed and semi-fixed features of a school. Beyond thoughtful updates to furnishings and finishes, the findings from this study recommend that infrastructure interventions into a building over its lifecycle (e.g., HVAC upgrades) should be carefully coordinated to avoid diminishing the learning ambiance.