Decor Debate

Pig-displayLast week, a colleague shared an education article with me titled “Study Shows Classroom Decor Can Distract From Learning.” The article outlines a recent study by Carnegie Mellon University. The study tested the effects of classroom decorations on focus and ability to learn in children ages three through five.

For the study, 24 kindergarten students were placed in laboratory classrooms and taught six science lessons on unfamiliar topics. Three lessons were taught in a colorfully decorated classroom, and three were taught in a comparatively bare space. Students were given a test before each lesson and after each lesson, and the tests were compared to gauge how much learning took place. In the sparsely decorated room, students got 55 percent of the questions correct compared to only 42 percent in the decorated classroom.

The article does not suggest that teachers start tearing things off their classroom walls. It does however acknowledge that improving education outcomes for children is a complex and complicated issue, and this is one of those things that a teacher can control.

I’m super curious about your thoughts. Does this study have you rethinking the appearance of your classroom walls? Please explain!



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5 thoughts on “Decor Debate

  1. I read the study and it was interesting. However, I wish student learning was as simple as whether to decorate or not.

  2. Wow. Interesting article. I change the items on my walls to match the theme we are studying. I usually don’t decorate for holidays, though, because I have discovered that it gets the students too excited.

    Alphabet charts, number charts, shape posters, etc. are expected by our administrators to be posted in the room. We also have several other required postings such as school rules, school pledge, emergency color codes, school map/layout, posters showing how to walk down the hall correctly, district goals, ELA/math/science/social studies focus of the day, . . . and the list goes on & on. It’s definitely way too much to have up on the walls — especially for pre-k students.

  3. I think it is important that classroom decorations serve a purpose. Anchor charts, student work and resources (word wall) are all important to have. However covering every inch of the classroom with “cute” decorations just for the sake of decorating may be distracting.

  4. We have many things that we are required to put up on our walls. Rules, rigor definitions, vocabulary, goals, scales, essential questions, etc. However, our fire code is very strict about no more than 20 percent of our walls being covered. It is a tough road to travel trying to please everyone. I try to put up some things that will help the students academically but I am quite limited. This year I am going to have an overall theme of lady bugs because it is mostly red and black things. It is not distracting and almost anything can fit in with the theme.

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