Role of Learning Spaces: A Comparative Analysis
What We Did
We partnered with seven universities in Brazil to track 272 students as they transitioned from traditional classrooms to enhanced learning spaces, then we studied the impact the environment had on learning. Holding constant the students, the teachers, the program, and the pedagogy, the space became the core variable. We began with a pre-survey to communicate the fundamentals of our research design and to understand the many layers of learning within the program. In a mixed-methods approach, we collected observational data, ran surveys, and conducted focus groups with the learners and educators in the traditional space. We then engaged the same methodology after the students moved to the new environment to measure the impact of the new space.
The traditional classrooms had a rigid structure: there was a well-defined front of room, the furniture was not easily movable, and features were designed to support a front-of-room, lecture-based learning style. The enhanced space included non-traditional features such as multiple displays; no clear front and back; three-way portioned, raisable tables that allow for different learning modes; and reconfigurable seating and learning settings.
After gathering data in both the traditional and enhanced spaces, we compared results, from the perspective of both students and teachers, to better understand the effect of the transition into enhanced classrooms.
Pedro Coivo, Kenneth Fisher, Patricia Nobre.