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Secondary classrooms are the settings where crucial learning experiences occur, yet much of the existing research on classroom design pertains to elementary schools. The general lack of importance placed on the physical layout of secondary classrooms insinuates that while younger students benefit from an attractive, visually pleasing classroom, teenage students do not. Despite this, educators seek to make their classrooms places of refuge and learning. For example, Utah’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, Lauren Merkley, decorates her room with thrifted lamps which emit a warm glow in her classroom. Martin Reeder of Sky View High School curated a ‘book nook’ with chairs, couches, and a rug to encourage independent reading and discourse, all while achieving an inviting ambiance. This research aims to understand the rationale behind current secondary teachers’ classroom design choices and how the tangible learning environment affects student engagement and learning. After conducting four interviews with teachers and surveying both current secondary educators and former secondary students, the researcher concluded that while the intellectual needs of students are essential and the basis of our curriculums, teachers must also prioritize the design of the physical classroom environment. Classroom design contributes to building rapport with students, utilizes space for the benefit of teachers and students alike, and conveys a message of cultural awareness to the communities we serve.

Publication Date



Logan, UT


secondary education, physical environment, classroom design, learning


Education | English Language and Literature

The Language of Classroom Design: How Aesthetic Impacts Learning