A qualitative study of the intersection of instructional space design and student engagement

Eric A Byrne, Fordham University


School leaders face decisions about school designs that will affect students now and in the years to come. For too long, schools have been designed absent the instructional and curricular needs of students. This study attempted to determine the impact of instructional space on student engagement and perceptions of school. Using a qualitative research methodology, I interviewed 12 students, nine teachers, three staff developers, and two administrators to determine the impact of innovative instructional space. Observational data were collected to provide a description of the space and the actions of students and teachers. Participants found that the comfort of the various furnishings and the visual appeal of the space affected student engagement and teacher pedagogy, allowing for more varied, student-centered instruction than does a traditional classroom. Students and teachers stated that individualized instruction and stronger connections with one another were more possible in an innovative space than in a traditional classroom. Making the transition to the use of innovative spaces in schools requires engaging the community and developing an understanding of why change is necessary. Administrators indicated that a strategically designed conversation to build support within the community and professional development for teachers is critical to moving to active, innovative instructional environments. The implication of the results of this study is that school leaders and communities, faced with the challenges of reinventing their schools so that children can meet the demands of the 21st century, need to reconceptualize the environments in which these children work and learn.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Education

Recommended Citation

Byrne, Eric A, "A qualitative study of the intersection of instructional space design and student engagement" (2016). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10146978.