New Study Shows Classroom Design is Key Contributing Factor in College Students’ Enrollment Decisions

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., April 15, 2014 — Classrooms have a larger influence over prospective students’ enrollment decisions than university provided amenities such as dining and fitness facilities, according to a new study commissioned by Steelcase Education.
While campus admissions materials emphasize new athletic facilities and elaborate dining halls, this study shows that these are not the most important campus assets to prospects:

More than half (51 percent) of students say classrooms are the most important campus environment that influenced their decision to attend their current school. Less than a quarter of those surveyed said dining facilities (24 percent) or athletic facilities (23 percent).

This research also shows that only 32 percent of students say they are engaged in class half the time however, active discussions keep them more engaged and focused.
Active discussions and group work not only keep students engaged but 72 percent of students say it impacts their ability to learn and helps them feel like part of a community.

There have been numerous reports on the large investments made by institutions in recent years on luxury-amenities in an effort to attract prospective students. However, while college life is largely a social experience, learning is also something that needs to facilitate social interactions. This study shows that it is the potential of in-the-classroom engagement with peers and faculty that is most important to students during the college search process.

“While these findings may surprise some, students spend most of their time at school in the classroom, so providing flexible and inspiring learning environments is an investment worth making,” said Mark Walters, Director of Product Management of Steelcase Education. “Educators need to rethink the way we view the classroom. Most classrooms in use today were built for traditional pedagogies in a passive learning setting. These environments can actually hamper interaction and engagement, and even act as a barrier. Today’s students are looking for different spaces that have the flexibility to allow for individual work, as well as lectures and group work. Ultimately, they are looking for spaces that support active learning.”

The survey was commissioned by Steelcase Education and conducted by Widmeyer Communications in February 2014. It was a national online survey of 600 U.S. college students at both 4-year and 2-year institutions.

Editor’s Note: To receive a copy of the full study, contact Lauren Macon,

Steelcase Education
As lifelong learners, Steelcase Education aims to make a difference in education. For students, educators and designers, we create the most effective, rewarding and inspiring learning spaces. As a dedicated group within Steelcase exclusively focused on education, we bring evidence-based design, technology and innovative solutions to education environments, wherever learning happens.