This undergraduate interior design capstone research focuses on understanding how forward-thinking design approaches can improve student success and teacher effectiveness in the classroom environment. Addressing the ever-changing needs of students, this research investigates variables of classroom environments such as the impact of color, lighting, acoustics, technology, space planning, furniture, and biophilia. Understanding these factors in the classroom environment can inspire new approaches to design and class flexibility whilst positively impacting student learning outcomes, teacher effectiveness, and overall well-being.
This capstone research is conducted at a time of change within educational design approaches as they continually aim to determine which factors directly enhance learning environments. Outcomes of the anonymous survey and one-to-one interviews pinpoint concerns of current classrooms and standards that can either positively or negatively impact student motivation, engagement, and overall success. Further, case studies centered around flexibility and biophilia provided knowledge to advance interior solutions in response to the issues of the traditional classroom. Providing successful approaches, these studies resulted in significant increases in student engagement, collaboration, happiness, and academic achievements. Analysis of qualitative, data-informed research and ideation provides new approaches and through the lens of flexibility and biophilia.
The Creative Agenda hones in on two key findings from the Literature Review and Research Agenda, biophilia and flexibility, which are proven to aid in student success, teacher effectiveness, and overall well-being. From this, four prototypical classrooms from each pivotal grade level are reimagined to provide insight into designing future-optimized classroom learning environments. The promotion of flexibility through adjustable, moveable furniture and biophilia through access to natural light, views to nature, and material application, drives design decisions. Diagrams, renderings, and additional graphics provide broad ideas for solutions to reimagine classrooms into optimized learning spaces. Moreover, these proposed solutions present future opportunities in K-12 design and answer the research question, How can forward-thinking design approaches improve student success and teacher effectiveness in the classroom environment.
Interior Design (BFA)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Design (CAD)
Friery, Mak W., "Escaping Tradition: An Exploration of Optimized Learning Environments" (2023). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus