How Can Flexible Learning Environments Promote Active Learning?


Between 2019 and 2022, the Novigado project looked into the potential of learning spaces to act as enablers and promoters of active learning. Is it possible that school design and classroom layout play a silent role in the education process? Can we improve learning outcomes through innovative classroom arrangement and school architecture? According to a 2018 meta-analysis by education researchers Terry Byers & co, yes! Byers and his team found that innovative space design can account for 7-10% of the variance in student academic achievement whereas additional aspects such as lighting, acoustics, and air quality can account for 10-16% of the variance.

With the Novigado project, the project consortium focused on the link between pedagogy and the school space. There are flexible learning spaces in every school, and it is time to discover them, for the benefit of the pedagogy, and obviously the students.

The project included a Capacity Building Programme during which 25 schools across Europe tested several active learning concepts with the support of flexible learning space design. The majority of the teachers said that changing their attitude to a classroom or school space and rethinking the classic classroom arrangement was helpful for their teaching practice. Furthermore, working with active learning scenarios increased their efficiency and improved their self-confidence to guide new, more student-centered activities.

How can we use learning spaces to advance education?

During the project, a number of resources were made available to familiarise teachers, school leaders as well as other education stakeholders with the concept of active learning and to encourage them to try different approaches to classroom arrangements. Every teacher has the power to use the classroom (or other) space to support the teaching process and this space can be pre-designed to help students.

The Guidelines in Learning Space Innovations presents a number of ways to adapt the school space to any activity that we wish to engage students in. They were constructed on the basis of a desk research and literature review on flexible and innovative learning environments, and on teachers’ and students’ practices from the classroom that support both active learning and innovative teaching.

In addition to English, French, Portuguese, Polish, and Turkish, the guidelines are now available in two additional languages: Spanish and Hungarian thanks to the contributions by INTEF and Oktatási Hivatal. Find all the language versions here. In addition, the project developed a range of learning scenarios that guide teachers on how to present different subject matters in innovative and student-centric ways. The learning scenarios are print-and-use lesson plans developed by pedagogical experts which educators can use to experiment with their students. Download the learning scenarios here in a variety of languages and subjects.

Read more about Novigado:

•    Novigado project website

•    Active Learning Blog