Can we quantify the impact of active learning environments on student outcomes?

Research Project Name

Learning Spaces: A Toolkit

What We Did

Our mission was to develop a toolkit to test the correlation between space and learning. Capitol Federal Hall — the new Gensler-designed School of Business building at University of Kansas — served as a beta-test, leveraging both quantitative and qualitative instruments that spanned observations, surveys, and IT information. Our broad range of measurement tools substantiated both the perceptions and the reality behind learning, space dynamics, and student and faculty behavior.

As we worked with University of Kansas to overhaul their facilities, we measured and grounded enhancements in actual behavioral and perceptual change. Our goal was to establish the degree to which a given space is a variable, by testing subjects before and after the new facility opened.

To add another layer of nuance, we surveyed students and faculty members to see what mattered most to them across a wide range of activity-based and space-based indicators, then analyzed the discrepancies between groups. We developed the set of indicators from a composite of primary and secondary research, including Gensler’s own history of education research focused on space. Learning indicators include variables such as creativity, self-direction, fundamental literacies, ownership, and choice. Physical indicators include variables such as lighting, acoustics, temperature, and the physical layout of objects.

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Patricia Nobre, Meghan Webster, Allison Bulgart, Stephanie Park, Sarah Jones, Keith Besserud, Ashley Claussen, Pedro Coivo

Year Completed