Raechel French

Focus Area

What are the characteristics of a successful transition by teachers from a traditional space to an innovative learning environment?

While a new or renovated school is being constructed, there is an opportunity to utilize change leadership and professional development to ensure teacher practices and school culture align with the intent of the new environment.

The goal of Raechel’s research is to “unpack” the process schools have taken to successfully
transition from traditional learning environments to ones more innovative.

This short video provides an overview of the project in October 2019.


Raechel has spent the past 4 years as an educational planner at an architecture firm in Austin, Texas helping plan and design schools across the United States. She earned a B.E.D. in Architecture and a B.S. in Psychology from Texas A&M University and a Master’s in Human-Environment Relations from Cornell University, focusing on Facility Planning and Management with a minor in Organizational Behavior.

In Feb 2017 Raechel French joined the team as a Fulbright Postgraduate Scholar from the US and following this commenced a PhD with the project. Raechel’s goal is to help expand the role of school architects and planners so that they have more influence on the use of the buildings they design. Raechel finds that the design process as it is, while engaging and collaborative, often only includes a small subset of the eventual users. This is especially troublesome when a school system hopes to deviate from the traditional models of teaching and learning and relies upon the building itself to create the shift. Raechel sees a new paradigm in which there is a strategic organizational alignment process integrated within design work to help school clients holistically realize their vision.

Publications, Presentations and Memberships

  • Poster presentation at Fulbright Gala Presentation Event, March 2017
  • Presentation at the Inveresk Design Forum, University of Tasmania, 6 April 2017 and media coverage.
  • French, R, Mahat, M & Imms, W. (2018) Shifting Teacher Practice in an Innovative Learning Environment (Poster presentation) at Association for Neuroscience in Architecture (ANFA), La Jolla, California, USA 21-22 September 2018.
  • French, R & Imms, W. (2018) Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change. Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA), Oklahoma City 6-9 June.