Transforming spaces: Fostering student-centered learning through the intentional design of formal and informal learning spaces

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Harvey, Jen
McAvinia, Claire
O'Rourke, Kevin
FitzSimmons, Jason
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University College Cork
National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
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Transforming the academic experience and success of students by building Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs) is increasing, but ALCs are still fewer than traditional classroom spaces. These new learning spaces create an inherent tension between increasing student enrollments and active learning environments. Accommodating increased class sizes does not have to exclude fostering an active learning space. We have an opportunity every time a classroom is renovated or a new building is built to intentionally acknowledge and engage this tension to positively influence student learning and success. As we renovate and construct new learning spaces on our campuses, it is not only important to understand how the “built pedagogy” (Monahan 2000, 2002) and “architecture as pedagogy” (Orr 1993, 1997) of our spaces can help or hinder more active learning pedagogies, but also how to support effective teaching in these spaces (Levesque-Bristol, 2019). While many institutions are prioritizing active learning as old classrooms get renovated, few are doing so at the broad campus-wide scope necessary to affect larger-scale culture change (Park & Choi, 2014). Two such institutions that are developing and supporting large-scale active learning spaces are the Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) and Purdue University (Indiana, USA). TU Dublin and Purdue are conducting collaborative research focusing on how each institution’s new, large-scale construction of formal and informal learning spaces is impacting teaching and learning.
Active Learning Classrooms , ALC , Large scale , Formal , Informal , Learning spaces , Teaching and learning
Harvey, J., McAvinia, C., O’Rourke, K. and FitzSimmons, J. (2019) 'Transforming spaces: Fostering student-centered learning through the intentional design of formal and informal learning spaces', Learning Connections 2019: Spaces, People, Practice, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland, 5-6 December, pp. 114-121. doi: 10.33178/LC.2019.24