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Open Plan: Who Benefits?

K.A. Pickens

The research on the effects of open plan classrooms on children's learning and behaviour is still very limited in scope. In particular, not enough studies have been done to enable us to generalize with complete confidence about the effects on children of different ages or ability levels, and there have been few follow-up studies of the permanence or otherwise of reported changes in achievement and behaviour. Nonetheless, bearing in mind the deficiencies of the research in this area, the findings to date seem clear enough, and may be summarized as follows:
1. No consistent differences between the academic achievement of pupils in open plan and traditional classrooms have been found.
2. Children in open plan classrooms are frequently rated more highly on scales measuring motivation, peer relations, attitudes to school, self concept and similar characteristics than are children in traditional classrooms.
In this report the results of four recent studies which confirm these general findings and, at the same time, add an important new dimension to the research on open plan are outlined. Two of these studies are English; the other two are American.

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