Technical report

A systematic review of the effects of learning environments on student learning outcomes

Students Learning and teaching Primary education Secondary education Schools Building design Educational achievement Australia

The systematic review identified evidence that different learning environments (blended, innovative learning environment (ILE), open-plan and traditional) have an impact on student learning outcomes. There are significant methodological questions around the availability and viability of empirical evidence. This systematic review investigated how researchers measure changes in academic outcomes attributed to the intervention of changes to the primary and secondary schooling learning environments.

A search of twelve databases, which integrated fields of education or design, identified those studies that addressed student learning outcomes in a range of environments in both primary and secondary educational settings. Quantitative data was extracted using a customised form, with the application of various processes to assess bias, reliability and validity to document changes in discrete measure/s of academic or learning outcomes.

Of the 5,521 articles retrieved, 21 were included in this review. The studies ranged from single-site comparative studies through to quasi-experimental randomised designs at multiple sites. Samples ranged from 17 to 22,679 students from primary and secondary schools. The review revealed that assessment regimes that favoured the prevailing view of academic progress in the domains of literacy and numeracy were most common. Importantly, the review identified few robust and valid instruments that assessed the impact of different spatial layouts on student learning in the 21st Century learning domains of creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration and problem-solving.

The review presented a small number of studies with adequate quality, sampling and statistical process to isolate and then evaluate the impact of different learning environment types. These studies presented evidence of a positive correlation between learning environments, and improvements in, student academic achievement. At the same time, the review highlighted the need for further longitudinal evaluation of how different learning environments impact a broader spectrum of student academic outcomes.

Publication Details


Technical report 4/2018