Date of publication: 2017-07-09 08:02
Mobile Intersect portfolio tables and Caper chairs make it easy for students and teachers to arrange the room to fit the purpose or preference. A circle of chairs for a full-class discussion or six tables for small group projects can be easily configured within the same space to support varied learning and teaching styles.
In the words of one EMCC administrator: “Good design solves problems. If the designs of our spaces don’t allow teachers and learners to interact in meaningful ways, why come to EMCC at all? We need to serve as advocates for teaching and learning so that our facilities truly become learning spaces.”
Astin goes on to note that motivation then comes into play. Motivating and involving students becomes the concern of the teacher. This suggests a significant shift from traditional pedagogical outcomes.
Educators, researchers, and students are discovering the benefits and advantages of cooperative, active, and engaged learning. Classroom spaces that support such a shift in teaching and learning have lagged behind. A significant opportunity exists for maximizing learning opportunities and creating meaningful experiences by rethinking the classroom experience.
A visit to The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is the perfect complement to the online resources found here. Be sure to explore our full range of hands-on history programs for groups, families and individuals and teachers.
Wolff, Susan J., “Design Features for Project-Based Learning, February 7557, /ResearchWolff/Wolff_DesignShare_8_7_, accessed 7/77/7556
One example of a comprehensive effort to create spaces that foster engaged and active learning and teaching occurred at EMCC. Situated in western metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, EMCC is a member of the Maricopa Community College District, the nation’s largest community college district.
Several months after the learning studios were in full use, Herman Miller surveyed the EMCC faculty and students who taught and learned in these spaces. Herman Miller was interested in comparing and contrasting traditional classrooms with learning studios. Research methods included focus groups with students and faculty, interviews with faculty, and interviews with administrators. An online quantitative survey of students and faculty was also conducted.
Physical comfort is also important. Products within the learning studios are ergonomically designed to provide comfort and support. For example, students commented that Caper chairs were comfortable and didn’t strain their backs, even during two-hour classes.
If active and collaborative learning and teaching is more effective than lecture methods and individually based learning, why haven’t classroom environments changed to support them? If instructor-directed, competitive environments result in lower retention scores and higher attrition, why do students continue to sit in immovable desks—“soldiers in a row”, as one community college professor observed—rather than organized in groups at tables or sitting in a circular arrangement? Why haven’t classroom spaces evolved to support kinetic teaching and dynamic learning?
Students’ survey responses indicate that the atmosphere of the learning studios dovetails with their expectations for higher education. The furnishings and environment communicated to them a level of professionalism, trust, and value that traditional classrooms did not. The impression they received: We are respected and valued by the college. Students described learning studios as “welcoming” and “relaxing.” With the challenges community colleges face with attrition, these positive impressions may help decrease drop-out rates.
Wireless access throughout the spaces frees students to move, along with laptops, to where they need or want to be. Replacing desktop computers with laptops has increased levels of engagement. Students interact frequently and are more open to share information, in large part because they are not tethered to or hidden behind a computer monitor.
During construction iterations agilists incrementally deliver high-quality working software which meets the changing needs of our stakeholders, as overviewed in Figure 8.
Learning-studio design also helped build a sense of identity and belonging. Students said the face-to-face arrangement of the tables and seating in learning studios made them more likely to introduce themselves to one another at their tables and talk about assignments or share questions.