Data-Driven Approaches to STEAM Design

A District’s Path to Engaging all Learners

AIA Continuing Education Provider

1 LU / HSW

By utilizing post occupancy data and research, school district administrators, teachers, and designers can benefit from determining the level to which reinvigorated learning spaces can enhance the academic success of students. Engaging students in the curriculum, increasing test scores, and overall student satisfaction are desired results within the educational system. How does the design of new and renovated spaces promote these results? Groton Central School District, a rural district south of Syracuse, New York, opened a Middle and High School STEAM Learning Program in a reinvigorated space a few years ago. In order to measure student engagement, academic success, attendance rate, and behavior improvements, the design team, gathered data, including Google surveys and SEL, which measures how students feel about themselves as learners. The outcomes of this data collection have shown that students who were the most disengaged in conventional classroom settings have been the most positively impacted by the change of learning models that the new STEAM Program has allowed, and has brought that engagement back with them into traditional classroom settings. As a result of this, Groton CSD engaged the design team once again to design a STEAM learning space for their Elementary School to start this engagement pattern at a young age, implementing the data from the post-occupancy research from the previous STEAM project to inform the design.

Learning Objectives:

  1. IDENTIFY how the design of reinvigorated learning spaces impacts student success and engagement.
  2. REALIZE that research can help determine the impact the design of space has on its users.
  3. LEARN how to conduct their own post occupancy research with their students.
  4. EXPLORE how to better align curriculum to meet the individual needs of students.
Nicholas Williams, AIA
Nicholas Williams, AIA
Principal, Ashley McGraw Architects   

Nick is Principal and Director of Ashley McGraw’s Mid-Atlantic Office in Washington, D.C. He previously worked for the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) as Director of Facility Planning and Design, overseeing the design and construction of the District’s major school renovation and new construction initiatives, including net-zero energy schools. Nick is a strong advocate of research-driven design approaches that demonstrate the impact of space on student achievement and has first hand experience in this field both as Owner and Architect.

Catherine Wolfe, CID NCIDQ, ALEP
Catherine Wolfe, CID NCIDQ, ALEP
Associate Principal, Ashley McGraw

Catherine is an Associate Principal and Design Strategist at Ashley McGraw Architects. Knowing that successful educational models vary from individual to individual, Catherine’s primary goal when designing K-12 environments is to create spaces that empower students to take control of their own educational path. Her continued commitment in researching, analyzing, and designing educational spaces has resulted in wonderful collaborations with Districts across New York State to create vibrant student centered learning environments.

Gretchen Craig
Gretchen Craig
Designer, Ashley McGraw Architects

Gretchen is an Architectural Designer for Ashley McGraw Architects. She has extensive knowledge of educational spaces and has over 10 years of design experience. An award-winning designer, Gretchen has been recognized for her involvement in several projects including the Senyai Thai Kitchen (The American Architecture Prize 2017, Commercial Interior Design) and Binghamton City School District’s Benjamin Franklin Elementary School Ground Floor Renovation (2022 American Institute of Architects New York State Excelsior Award of Merit and 2021 American Institute of Architects Central New York Award of Excellence). Gretchen is a graduate of Cornell University (2013) with a Bachelor of Architecture.

Track: Research

This track elevates Research on learning and learning environments and focuses on methodology, findings, and implications for practice. Tangible takeaways are encouraged, including tools and resources that support innovation and improvements to learning environments. There is Art in how we utilize Science to improve our design outcomes and our design and research process. To this end, dissemination of research findings is a priority so that learning environments are re-imagined and enhanced based on evidence and measured impact, not based on trends.

Primary Core 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.

LearningSCAPES 2023

October 12-15 | Hilton Chicago

© Copyright 2023 Association for Learning Environments. All Rights Reserved.