Can Classroom Furniture Improve Student Engagement?

The title of this article grabbed my attention because it deals with the education market. I have been emerged in the education market working at Hollis + Miller. I used this article as more of a comparison of how we design our schools as to what studies have shown work well with students and learning.

The first word that stood out to me when dealing with furniture in the classroom and classroom engagement was collaboration. The article stated the the number one factor in student-engagement was collaboration. Most classroom furniture is set up in a style to be movable and manipulated for each different activity. The most common learning surface is a table that can be designed to have movable writing surfaces as well as different dividers to be used for privacy. The table is easily morphed from lecture mode to team work mode. Hollis + Miller uses these sorts of tables often, especially in K-12 when collaboration is key. Hollis + Miller also creates areas called “a collaboration stair” which is similar to the concept of Pierce Commons. This area can be used for presentations or for individual or group projects.

Another common piece of classroom furniture is the individual desk. This is what I sat in all through high school. These desks are made for right handed writers and have a small storage space below the seat. This product has been updated to work well again with student-engagement factors such as physical movement and stimulation. A table system has been created by Steelecase that is designed for individual and collaborative interactions. This maintains personal work space, but the rollers on the chair allow for movement if the learning style needs to be moved.

I believe that current classrooms are focused on change and adaptability. Many different studies, including this article, have shown how engagement while learning increases participation. Teachers are able to consistently change their learning styles to adapt to their students current needs.


Bergsagel, Victoria. “Can Classroom Furniture Improve Student Engagement?” Getting Smart. Getting Smart, 29 Jan. 2015. Web. 30 July 2015.


2 thoughts on “Can Classroom Furniture Improve Student Engagement?

  1. kordia says:

    This topic always interests me as well coming at it from the perspective of the instructor. It seems there is a lot of research related to STEM courses and K-12, but not as many related to art or design education or higher ed. Do you feel like these classrooms setups would work better for our core IAPD courses apart from Studio? They Steelcase Node and other pieces do seem to be good options for K-12, but do you feel they would work as easily in a college classroom where students may be using laptops instead of notebooks?


    • kcastinado says:

      I think that movable tables could be very beneficial for our smaller sized IAPD classes. We already use table seating as opposed to individualized seating. I think it would be a positive change. I also think that the Node could be used with whatever medium the students learn with. I think the point of laptops is just as a digital notebook and textbook in one. I believe students should still have the same effect on collaboration and rearranging work spaces.


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