Investigating the Impact of Flexible Furniture in the elementary Classroom



Attai, Shanna L., 1987-
Carmona Reyes, Jorge
Davis, John
York, Judy
Ranney, Kerri
Hyde, Truell

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Educators are beginning to consider the physical learning environment as an additional resource to meet the learning outcomes in modern classrooms. In order to better utilize classroom space, schools have begun to eliminate desks and chairs replacing “traditional” furniture with “flexible” furniture, capable of multiple reconfigurations to facilitate teaching and learning. The impact of flexible furniture in elementary classrooms has little exploration. This study investigates the various impacts flexible furniture paired with teacher professional development (PD) can have on the elementary classroom. A total of ten classrooms were included in the study with 3rd and 4th graders (N = 206 students). Classrooms were observed biweekly for eight weeks and assigned to one of two groups: Group A received Professional Development (PD) and flexible furniture while Group B maintained traditional furniture. During observations three students were randomly selected per classroom and continuously monitored throughout each observation (n = 30 students). This study is twofold, first, a between-groups design and an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was employed to assess the effect of the intervention using pre-intervention self-assessment results as the covariate. As predicted, students who experienced flexible furniture reported greater satisfaction with the learning environment than did peers with traditional furniture. Secondly, a series of independent samples t-test demonstrated classrooms with flexible furniture provided more opportunities for student autonomy and use of furniture for learning. Insight on flexible furniture, its impact in the elementary classroom and implications and future research are discussed.