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Thursday, June 23 • 15:00 - 16:00
CON08.06b - Investigating the effects of physical spaces on learning perception of first-year university students

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Classroom design is an evolving area of research in higher education, specifically in regards to how it affects student learning. Traditional learning space in most universities is the lecture theatre, which can restrict the application of educators’ revised understanding that student learning should be active, collaborative and inquiry based to support a learner-centered pedagogy. Research has shown that a classroom’s physical design and arrangement impact active and collaborative learning, as well as student engagement (Salter et al., 2013 and Teitelbaum, 2011). Determining how well students learn in classrooms is more accurately based on how they perceive the learning that is, or is not, occurring rather than what the space looks or feels like as is commonly focused on (Ramsden, 2011)

To try and better understand students’ perceived learning while in different classroom settings, a survey was administered twice to a cohort of first-year business students who were subjected to different classroom settings. The students were asked to compare their learning experiences in traditional lecture theatres and a newly designed, technology enhanced, active learning classroom. This session will include; a review of the research details with a focus on the design of spaces used in the study, a summary of the results, and a group discussion. The goal of the discussion is to bring awareness of student perceptions of learning, with respect to learning space design, to the participants and determine methods for adapting current spaces. A deeper investigation into how students perceive their learning in different spaces will be of benefit to institutions, instructors and students themselves to promote a pedagogical shift towards student-centered learning.


Ramsden, B. (2011). Evaluating the impact of learning space. Reference Services Review, 39 (3), 451-464.

Salter, D., Thomson, D.L., Fox, B. and Lam, J. (2013). Use and Evaluation of a Technology-rich Experimental Collaborative Classroom. Higher Education Research & Development, 32 (5), 805-819.

Teitelbaum, M. (2011). Revision of Space Utilization in the Ontario Colleges to Support Learner Centered Pedagogy, Technology and Users. College Quarterly, 14 (1).


Erica Bulloch

Erica Bulloch, O.C.T., M.Ed. Student, University of Calgary
avatar for Jennifer Spencer

Jennifer Spencer

Graduate Student, GTC Co-Chair, University of Guelph
I am a PhD Candidate in the School of Engineering at the University of Guelph. Recently I became the Co-Chair for Guelphs' Graduate Teaching Community (GTC) and will be helping guide students on their teaching development journey! I love all things SoTL and am always on the lookout... Read More →

Additional Authors

Shannon Rushe

Shannon Rushe, M. Ed, Program Counsellor - Bachelor of Arts & Sciences, University of Guelph

Thursday June 23, 2016 15:00 - 16:00 EDT
UCC 59