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The Dos and Don’ts of Effective Classroom Design & Layout

What is effective classroom design?

Effective classroom design is the manipulation of particular elements in the classroom to enhance the learning and productivity of students.

Given the abundance of educational research, we now understand a student’s environment has a significant impact on their productivity. Recent studies have shown that just increasing the amount of light in the classroom can increase the average student’s test score by 20%. Consequently, even small aesthetic changes to a classroom can collectively make a huge difference to a student’s development and success.


The layout of tables in a classroom can have a big impact on the way a student interacts in class. However, it is important to note that there is not one optimum layout. This is because the way in which students engage in class can be more or less beneficial depending on the type of lesson that is being held. For example, it would not be helpful to have groups of tables for lessons in which it is important that students work independently and are not distracted. On the other hand, lessons which look to encourage discussion and participation would need groups of tables, as this would optimise the productivity for that specific type of lesson.

As a result, one key aspect of maximising students’ productivity is flexibility. Changing the structure of classrooms to match the learning objectives of individual lessons will benefit the students overall. This is something to keep in mind and if it seems impractical to constantly be moving the furniture around, you may choose to have different workstations; incorporating different layouts and moving students to different areas depending on objectives. Alternatively, use the following guide to determine which layout would best suit your teaching style and would most benefit your classroom most:

  • Single desks – Individual desks are great for helping students to work independently. This format is great for serious lessons such as tests as they give order to the classroom and prevent distraction.
  • Separate tables – This layout encourages students to work in groups, learn from each other and feedback to other groups. This is good for working as a team.
  • U shape – A connected ‘U-shape’ of desks provide a good format to help students participate in full-class discussion. This is good for lessons which aim to promote understanding different perspectives and challenging others’ ideas.


It is also important to note that the quality and spacing of the furniture can have a lasting impact on students too. Comfy chairs help students to focus more, as their minds aren’t fixated on trying to feel comfortable.

In addition, making sure students aren’t cramped will allow them to feel unrestricted and better able to focus.


A colourful environment will help reduce eyestrain, promote visual stimulus and trigger certain positive emotional responses. This can be used strategically to help students. For example, yellow makes students feel happier, whereas green makes students feel more at ease.


Integrating technology in classrooms can help retain students’ interest by supporting interactivity and extra media content.

Finishing touches

Subtle additions to a classroom can make an aesthetic impact which makes the room feel more inviting. A warming room helps students to relax and focus their minds. The finishing touches to a classroom can include colourful artwork, plants and unique windows.

At CPS Interiors, we understand just how important an environment can be in promoting productivity. That’s why we provide bespoke design solutions for educational and commercial needs. We will work with you to design and implement comfortable modern workspaces to maximise the success of your student or employees. Contact our friendly team for more information.


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