Using Neuroscience Research to Impact Environment Design to Support Student Learning


Page Dettmann Ph.D.
MeTEOR Education

Melissa Cantrell
Principal, CDH Partners

LU: 1.5

Learning Units/Health, Safety, Welfare (LU/HSW)

How applies to HSW:

Participants will gain cutting-edge knowledge about learning and memory, brain function, neuroscience, learning and environments.


Education is an applied science that benefits from being grounded in empirical research of how the brain learns. This evidence-based information helps educators with the design of innovative learning experiences that engage students and lead to successful learning. Emerging research now is linking the science of learning to a school’s physical design. Features of a school environment can have a significant impact on student learning success. Neuroscientists are studying how the environment triggers the brain for learning, supports absorption of information, provides retrieval cues, activates the senses, and helps learning occur more rapidly and with greater retention. The session will present a bi-directional conversation between education and architecture to translate what we currently know about the science of learning to the design of school facilities. The overall focus will examine how the scientific principles of innovative teaching and learning can be highly supported by the design of school spaces. Our conversation will outline key principles about how students learn, apply those principles to a new mindset for teaching and learning, and further apply the principles to their direct influence on environmental design.

Learning Objectives:
  • Participants will gain knowledge on how learning and memory work and the effects of color on memory
  • Participants will become aware of the impact of environmental factors on learning and memory
  • Participants will become familiar with the key brain structures and systems involved in learning and the effect of shapes in the built environment on the learning process
  • Participants will learn about the role of key brain structures and emotions in learning and the intricate relationships among environmental, social, and individual factors


Primary Competency:

Design of Educational Facilities: Acts as a resource to the design team in providing ongoing guidance and support to ensure that the emerging and ultimate design aligns with the established community vision, education goals, future programming, written design standards, best/next practices and education policy.

Primary Domain:

Learning: Content of this session/workshop will focus on how we learn and/or how the physical environment responds specifically to various methods of instruction, pedagogies, learning styles, or learning trends.

Secondary Domain:

Context: Content of this session/workshop will focus on the circumstances that form the setting for the design and construction of specific learning environments and characteristics that distinguishes the project from other applications.