Innovative furniture and student engagement

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

The Encyclopedia of Educational Innovation




School of Education




Imms W., Morris J., Grunseit D. (2020) Innovative Furniture and Student Engagement. In: Peters M., Heraud R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Educational Innovation. Springer, Singapore.


It is widely accepted that furniture is a critical component of an innovative learning environment (ILE). ILEs are, by definition, those learning configurations that successfully merge innovative design with innovative practices. Only then does an innovative learning environment exist (Mahat et al. 2018). These are mostly characterized by designs that accommodate the widest possible range of teaching and learning needs; this often includes ubiquitous ICT and highly flexible infrastructure – including furniture. So, within this context, “innovative” furniture is a combination of both unique design characteristics and how these are used in practice. Thus, advancing furniture design to support innovative practices in ILEs is essential. However, this must be done in association with solid evidence of its impact on learning and teaching – to advance ILE effectiveness, we need to know what works. While good literature exists that explores a range of furniture-related issues in these types of schools, there remains a paucity of empirical research (studies based on hard evidence) that map, evaluate, and report specifically on the relationship between furniture and student experiences. This entry recognizes the broad scope of this issue and seeks to addresses one important component of that puzzle – student engagement. How can we gain a firm understanding of the impact of furniture (both design and use) on students’ engagement?



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