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The IKEA Effect on Education?


A recent Harvard Business School study found that when people build their own products, they tend to love them more than if they just purchased them. The study called this the “IKEA Effect” after the ubiquitous chain’s line of furniture that is (relatively) easy to assemble. If you put in the splinters, sweat and tears putting together your own dinky IKEA table, you’ll end up thinking that it is worth more than it really is. In other words:

People care more about stuff they create.

In the world of education, these findings shouldn’t come as a surprise. The “IKEA Effect” seems to hold in classroom settings…and we don’t just mean serving delicious Swedish meatballs for lunch. When students believe that they have a say in how something works, they are often more invested.

Indeed, alternative “free schools” have been founded on taking this principle to the extreme. At the Brooklyn Free School, all students have an equal say in how the school day is run. The students completely run the show, voting on school policies democratically. There are no required classes or activities, but the idea is that children will learn and develop better and simply care more when they are in control of their environment.

But even in more traditional learning setting, teachers can use the “IKEA Effect” to engage students. Give students input when designing projects. Allow students to have a say in the classroom’s rules and environment. Have students explore subject matter with creative projects.

After visiting many classrooms and working with thousands of students, we’ve found that when students write their own rhymes, they have ownership of the subject matter at hand. You can get your students writing academic rhymes now with our creative rap-writing lesson sequence.

Have you seen evidence of the “IKEA Effect” in your classroom?

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Funny, homeschoolers have been doing for years what these “free schools” are doing, and yet homeschoolers are often highly criticized for it.

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