Pedagogy and Space: Empirical Research on New Learning Environments

By J. D. Walker, D. Christopher Brooks, and Paul Baepler, in Educause Quarterly

In a previous EDUCAUSE Quarterly article,1 we reported the results of quasi-experimental research on the University of Minnesota’s new, technology-enhanced learning spaces called Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs). That investigation found — after controlling for potentially confounding factors such as instructor, instructional methods, assessments, and student demographics — that teaching in an ALC contributed significantly to student learning outcomes. In addition, our findings indicated that the type of space in which a class is taught influences instructor and student behavior in ways that likely moderate the effects of space on learning. Finally, we found significant cross-sectional differences between different subsets of our student sample in terms of how they perceived the ALC’s contribution to their learning experience.

Here, we report on the next phase of learning-spaces research at the University of Minnesota (UMN), which had two components. First, to ensure that our earlier results were not simply fortuitous, we replicated the original investigation with a different instructor, student sample, and subject matter. Second, having shown that the type of learning space matters, we turned our attention to the pedagogy employed within the room. Using another quasi-experimental design, we investigated whether or not having our instructor adapt her instructional approach to fit the space would influence student learning outcomes and student perceptions of their learning experience.

Two specific research questions guided this phase of our research:

  • Holding the pedagogical approach constant, what is the relationship between the type of learning space and (1) student learning outcomes, (2) instructor and student behavior, and (3) student perceptions of the learning experience?
  • Holding the learning space constant, what is the relationship between the type of pedagogical approach and (1) student learning outcomes and (2) student perceptions of the learning experience?

Full article

J. D. Walker, D. Christopher Brooks, and Paul Baepler. The text of this EQ article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 license.

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