Transitional space: learning in the spaces in-between

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McCrone, Luke
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University College Cork
National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
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There is increasing evidence, particularly in STEMM education, that traditional didactic transmission lecturing is less effective than more active, student-centred learning (Freeman et al., 2014). This mounting evidence has resulted in institution-wide curriculum review, pedagogic transformation and ongoing space refurbishments at Imperial College London, a research-intensive institution that provides the context for this work. Although active learning is proven to improve cognitive outcomes by supporting ‘students to do meaningful learning activities and think about what they are doing’ (Prince, 2004, p.223), its examination remains largely linked to instructional contexts, with neglect for the self-directed, non-timetabled learning spaces that support a rich learning experience. This instructional emphasis is evident from the capital that Imperial College London, among other institutions, continue to invest into ongoing classroom refurbishments to support curriculum review and innovation. However, it could be argued that these changes to physical infrastructure do not accurately reflect and address the growing self-directed workload that students now contend with. Furthermore, as capital spending on maintaining and modernising university buildings in the UK approaches £3 billion annually (Temple, 2018), these refurbishments are increasingly time- and money-intensive, placing a financial strain on institutions. The assumption that students successfully transition between passive and active learning, between directed and self-directed learning and between formal, timetabled and informal, non-timetabled spaces has meant transitional space being overlooked. By seeking to better understand student engagement with these transitional spaces as physical, curricular and cognitive spatial phenomena, this study is generating evidence for the educational importance of transitional space and using this to better understand active learning. By redesigning underutilised ancillary spaces adjacent to formal lecture spaces at lower cost than lecture theatre refurbishments, students can better self-direct active learning at moments of transition into and out of formal, timetabled spaces.
Transmission lecturing , Active , Student-centred learning , Space , Refurbishment , Learning spaces , Self-directed workload , Physical infrastructure , Transitional space
McCrone, L. (2019) 'Transitional space: learning in the spaces in-between', Learning Connections 2019: Spaces, People, Practice, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland, 5-6 December, pp. 63-67. doi: 10.33178/LC.2019.14