AbstractEvidence suggests that school environments can contribute not only to the health and well being of staff and students, but also to higher levels of educational attainment. However the area of educational ergonomic is relatively new and as such many of the results have yet been applied to school and curriculum design. Additionally, comprehensive methods for evaluating schools are lacking. In Saudi Arabia no design criteria or guides-lines have been provided by the ministries. Therefore the importance of design of primary schools is ignored and their built environment may be unnoticed. The lack of guidelines, failure to assess current schools and the link between school design and student attainment provides a clear rationale for undertaking this study.
The aim of this research was to assess and evaluate the built environments of primary schools in Saudi Arabia using an adaptation of existing design checklists, and Post-Occupancy Evaluation Toolkits with a view to firstly providing recommendations for each of the schools to improve their learning environments; and secondly to assist in formulating a set of design principles which may serve as a model to inform future primary school projects in Saudi Arabia.
Three international schools were selected in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia as representative schools. The facilities of each school, were assessed in terms of effectiveness of :
1. The effectiveness of the learning environment (using the Design Assessments Scale of Elementary Schools (1999) and the Council of Educational Facility Planners, International Adequacy Assessment tool (2002)
2. The adequacy of the functions provided (using Nair and Fielding Design Patterns Checklist (2005) and Lackney’s Learning Class Modalities).
The checklists were used to guide observations in the schools to provide data on the adequacy and functionality of the learning environments.
Following this a post occupancy evaluation was conducted with students, teachers and parents in each school to gain a detailed understanding of how the school was perceived by the different groups.
Results from the first study showed that 2 out of 3 of the schools failed to fulfil all criteria required for effective learning environments. For example, class rooms did not provide for flexibility and variety, were inadequately resourced, with too little storage and unpleasant interiors. On a wider level, important functions such as science labs, media rooms, gymnasiums and outdoor learning areas were not provided for.
The results from the observations were consistent with those obtained from the POE toolkit where students and teachers complained of similar issues such as lack of group work areas, poor interiors, and inadequate resources. Additionally, the toolkit also revealed several factors that students were particularly sensitive to such as noise, crowded classrooms, uncomfortable temperatures, and the need for quiet areas for individual study. Teachers were more sensitive to good lighting and pleasant interiors. Other concerns were storage, adequate resources, and flexible classrooms. The observations made prior to and independently of the POE explained the reasons for the responses and provided more insight into the nature of the problems in the school than the POE on its own.
In conclusion, together the assessment checklists and the POE can be used to determine the adequacy of educational environments and levels of stakeholder’s satisfaction with the facilities. The results can be used to inform redevelopment of the schools that took part in the study and to inform future developments. It is recommended that both checklists and POE are used to provide a detailed picture of the school from the perspective of all stakeholders.
At the end of the study the results will be presented to the schools that took part in the study and recommendations made to the Saudi education environment regarding the current standard of educational facilities and the need to support evaluation studies of this nature to drive up educational standards.
|Date of Award||2011|
- Saudi Arabia
- Study environments
- Primary schools