Design for Learning and Health

State of Elementary School Facilities in Texas and How they Affect Learning and Fitness

AIA Continuing Education Provider

1 LU / HSW

K-12 schools are a crucial part of the infrastructure in our society. In the U.S., over 50.8 million children spend about 180 days per year in K-12 public schools. The impact of school physical environments on students’ learning and health outcomes has been relatively understudied compared to the impact of education programs. This study addresses this knowledge gap by examining the state of elementary school facilities in Texas through a state-wide survey of school principals.

An online survey was conducted between May and August of 2022 to collect data from principals of public elementary schools in Texas. The survey asked about their school environments and programs as well as students’ learning, physical activity at school, and overall health. Students’ sociodemographic/academic performance and physical fitness data were collected from Texas Academic Performance Reports (TAPR) and Physical Fitness Assessment Initiative (PFAI) Fitness data provided by Texas Education Agency, respectively. Out of the 4,586 school principals we reached out to, 299 provided valid responses to the survey.

Multivariate linear regressions will be used to analyze the impact of school physical environments on students’ learning and physical fitness outcomes, while also taking students’ sociodemographic and social factors (e.g., school programs) into consideration. Findings from this study will offer practical guidance on the design and management strategies for architects, school administrators, as well as public health professionals to help create healthier schools for improved learning.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand how elementary schools’ physical environments affect students’ learning and physical fitness outcomes in the state of Texas.
  2. Learn about the top environmental needs among public elementary schools in Texas in terms of promoting students’ (1) learning, (2) physical activity and fitness, and (3) overall health.
  3. Describe actionable strategies to improve the physical environment of elementary schools to improve students’ learning and health outcomes.
Xuemei Zhu, Ph.D.
Xuemei Zhu, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Architecture, Texas A&M University, Presidential Impact Fellow, 

Dr. Xuemei Zhu is a Professor in the Department of Architecture and a Faculty Fellow in the Center for Health Systems & Design at Texas A&M University. She is also a Presidential Impact Fellow and the holder of the James M. Singleton Endowed Professorship of Educational Architecture, and the Co-director of the research group on Design Research for Active Living. Dr. Zhu’s scholarship investigates the impacts of the built environment on public health and social equity, with a specific focus on active living, healthy communities, evidence-based healthcare design, school design, and workplace design, using interdisciplinary approaches. Her research is supported by agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and the American Institute of Architects (AIA), with total support of about $6.8 million. She has published extensively in the fields of environmental design and planning, environment-behavior research, and public health. Her teaching centers on the theme of environment-behavior relationships and strengthens the link between environment-behavior research and design practice.
Hanwool Lee, Manasa Hegde, Eunkyeng Baek, Hap Lam Kwok, Chanam Lee, Texas A&M University  

learningSCAPES 2022

October 5-9
Marriott Rivercenter | San Antonio, TX

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