Applied Anthropometrics in School Furniture Design: Which Criteria Should be Used for Standardization?
Authors: Ignacio Castellucci a, Pedro Arezes b, Johan Molenbroek c
Abstract: Students most likely have one of the most sedentary occupations, one where permanent habits of sitting are formed. However, there is much more concern regarding office furniture. The mismatch between students and school furniture is likely to result in a number of negative effects, such as uncomfortable body posture, pain, and ultimately, it may also affect the learning process. This situation has provoked an increased concern about school classrooms, particularly regarding the study and design of school furniture. An important milestone is setting standards for school furniture, where a series of furniture sizes are defined with the aim of accommodating students with different anthropometric dimensions. Despite that, and with the exception of Europe, where the development of school furniture standards has been most actively pursued, there is a lack of standardization for the design of classroom furniture for educational settings in many countries. The aim of this study is to describe the process of designing school furniture by considering the students’ anthropometric data. The adopted methodology was to perform a literature review regarding different issues, such as setting standard, the design of school furniture, and equations for defining the mismatch between students and school furniture. There are some activities that need to be done before starting to gather the anthropometric measurements. These activities include, for example, identifying the target population, defining the sample size, determining the anthropometric measures, preparing the evaluation team(s), and obtaining the approval from the ethics committee. During the anthropometric measurements it is important to follow a standard procedure, where the measures are collected from the right side of the subjects while they are sitting in a standard position, without shoes and using light clothes. After collecting the measurements, it is important to check the data by using: observation of mean, minimum and maximum values, as well as the calculation of the different measures (for example: Buttock knee length - Buttock popliteal length), and observation of scatter plot graphics of stature with the other variables. To determine the dimensions and characteristics of different types of school furniture, seat height should be the starting point and the designs need to be based on a bottom-top approach. This dimension will split the sample in, at least, five different sizes of school furniture to accommodate students from 6 to 18 years of age. Some characteristics of the furniture have to also be considered, since the presence of a drawer will influence two important dimensions – the desk height and the seat to desk clearance. Finally, special attention should be given to the needed anthropometric measurement for furniture size selection. This is usually done by using Stature; however, some authors suggest that furniture selection can be done more efficiently if popliteal height is used instead.
Keywords: School, furniture, anthropometry, standard.
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