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Wednesday, June 22 • 14:45 - 15:35
CON03.09 - Diamonds are your best friend: Enabling students’ voices and insights on learning spaces using a participatory design approach

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Working with a premise that the teaching and learning environment is impacted by the physical environment (Tanner, 2000; Christensen Hughes, 2002) and in an effort to effect change, a group of educators from Carleton University conducted an environmental scan of the quality of university learning spaces. Studies that examine student experience of the physical university space are rather lacking (Cox, 2011), and “the creation and re-creation of learning spaces is vital for the survival of the academic community” (Savin-Baden, 2008, p.2). As an issue, one of our main goals is to improve these spaces through a participatory culture for discussion and action, in which students' voices are heard and respected.

This hands-on session will begin with a description of the design, rationale and findings of our study. This will be followed by an opportunity for participants to experience the diamond ranking activity used with 12 student focus groups and one of our research methods. The diamond activity engaged students in small groups as they negotiated and ranked different classroom amenities, such as space, seating, and accessibility. According to Clark (2012), the diamond activity is “praised for facilitating talk around a specific topic”; its strength is in requiring us “to make explicit the overarching relationships by which we organize knowledge” (p. 223).

The session will conclude with a 15-minute debriefing where participants will have an opportunity to reflect about how this “thinking skills tool” (Rockett & Percival, 2002) can be applied in their respective settings.

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

1. Appreciate the importance of spaces for students’ learning;

2. Describe the diamond activity;

3. Assess advantages of using the activity as a research or teaching tool;

4. Reflect on ways in which the activity can be applied in their own contexts.

Christensen Hughes, J. (2002). Developing a classroom vision and implementation plan. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2002, 92, 63-72.

Clark, J. (2012). Using diamond ranking as visual cues to engage young people in the research process. Qualitative Research Journal, 2, 222-237.

Cox, A. (2011). Students’ experience of university space: An exploratory study. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 23, 197 – 207.

Rockett, M. & Percival, S. (2002). Thinking for learning. Stafford: Network Educational Press.

Savin-Baden, M. (2008). Learning spaces: Creating opportunities for knowledge creation in academic life. Berkshire, England: McGraw Hill.

Tanner, C. K. (2000). The influence of school architecture on academic achievement. Journal of Educational Administration, 38, 309-330.

avatar for Peggy Hartwick

Peggy Hartwick

Instructor, Carleton University
Peggy was a recipient of the 2015 Brightspace Innovation Award in Teaching and Learning. She is an Instructor and PhD student in the School of Linguistics and Language Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. As a passionate educator who cares deeply about her students’ learning... Read More →

Beth Hughes

Beth Hughes is an Instructor in the Centre for Initiatives at Carleton University. She teaches at-risk students in the Enriched Support Program in their first year. She uses pedagogically sound and innovative strategies for encouraging students’ engagement, such as coordinating... Read More →
avatar for Patrick Lyons

Patrick Lyons

Director, Teaching and Learning, Carleton University
Patrick Lyons is the Director, Teaching and Learning in the Office of the Associate Vice-President Teaching and Learning at Carleton University. He is responsible for the leadership and direction for Carleton’s initiatives in blended and online learning, educational development... Read More →

Dragana Polovina-Vukovic

Dragana Polovina-Vukovic is Instructional Design and Research Facilitator, Educational Development Centre at Carleton University. Dragana’s interest is in enhancing educational practices in postsecondary education. She has published articles in this field and presented at various... Read More →

Additional Authors

Cheryl Schramm

Cheryl Schramm teaches Systems & Computer Engineering, specifically web and mobile programming, and embedded computer systems. She is an awarded teacher, known for her innovative teaching strategies and interest in interdisciplinary projects. Cheryl is an active advocate and leader... Read More →

Flavia Renon

Flavia Renon is a Reference/Instruction Librarian for psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience and education at Carleton University. Her current areas of research include: creativity and design thinking across the disciplines, self-study in professional practice, personal learning... Read More →

Wednesday June 22, 2016 14:45 - 15:35 EDT
UCC 63