Researchers study how changes in the classroom environment impact student learning at IDEA High School

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Following a series of renovations at the Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA), 30 students are helping researchers discover how environmental changes impact their learning experience.

IDEA, one of five Personalized Learning schools in the district, has transformed their building at James W. Fannin into a space that helps students adapt to the more open, collaborative environment they will find in college.

“You can be yourself in the classrooms here,” said ninth-grade student Kerriyana Lawson.

Now, researchers from HKS are partnering with IDEA to determine the measurable impact of personalized space by erecting a pop-up lab at the school.

At first glance, HKS’ Sensory Design Lab looks more like a portable classroom than a high-tech research center. It is only upon close inspection that you find the lab’s network of sensors detecting temperature, lighting, sound, and humidity. A thermal camera tracks movement, and student participants wear wristbands to measure their heart rate.

Each research session is 30 minutes, during which students do schoolwork in the lab after choosing from a variety of furniture and equipment to personalize the space. As one of the first studies of its kind, the team at HKS doesn’t yet know what to expect from the study’s results. However, as students sink into brightly colored roller-chairs and work on a portable whiteboard, it’s easy to imagine that personalization of space will prove to be another positive step toward improving student outcomes.

HKS is partnering with Dallas ISD, the Center for Advanced Design Research and Evaluation (CADRE), and Herman Miller to conduct the study. Funding was granted by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).

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