Research study looks into impact of flexible furniture in classrooms

Posted at 2:10 PM, Jan 25, 2017
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:30:38-04

Baylor University researchers are studying whether flexible furniture in classrooms will help with student engagement.

Four classrooms at Spring Valley Elementary in Hewitt are participating in the pilot program known as the Student Engagement Research Project this spring semester. This follows an initial two-year-planning, experimentation and evaluation needed to perform the study.

Phase one of the project will involve one first grade and one second grade class using the flexible furniture, which includes floor pillows, bouncy chairs and wheeled tables for nine weeks. 

Second grade teacher Mallory Warrick said she is already noticing the difference in her classroom since the students started using the furniture this week. 

“In these past three days, the engagement level has skyrocketed because they are able to put that energy and to apply it somewhere else while they are able to put their focus at the task at hand," Warrick said.

Mason Lediner, one of her 19 students, said the new furniture helped him learn.

“It gets my brain going sometimes...because sometimes I just need a little exercise," Lediner said.

As part of phase two, the two first classrooms will use traditional furniture. Two other groups of first and second graders will who had been using traditional furniture will get to experience the flexible furniture.

Baylor University Assistant Director for Educational Research and Outreach Jorge Carmona said researchers will talk to students, administrators, parents and teachers before and after they complete each phase.

“Ultimately what we want to know is if the learning process becomes more efficient. If the output meaning the student learning increases.”

He said in past research projects, researchers observed students falling asleep if asked to stay in the same position for a while. 

“With this particular furniture, it allows students for constant motion, which feeds into the notion that the student will stay more alert and the byproduct of that is they will pay more attention,” Carmona said. 

The preliminary findings of this project will be released in the summer.

The research project was made possible by a collaborations of Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative, Education Service Center Region 12 and Huckabee, the Fort Worth-based architecture and design firm that designed the chairs.

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