The next step in improving students’ experience in higher ed may be in rebuilding campus spaces for collaboration and data sharing

campus-spaces-designAccording to a new study, schools need to create layered, blended and personalized places that support a variety of interactions and digital platforms, rather than creating specialized spaces, such as computer labs.

Furthermore, the study found that mobility has transformed the way students learn, and therefore requires careful attention to physical spaces now more than ever.

This revelation may just be one of the factors to shed light not only on how student homes or spaces affect learning in the classroom at college, but also how students interact in common university spaces.

The study took place in G. Wayne Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons at Georgia Tech’s campus in Atlanta, where a user-oriented research collaboration between Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and Herman Miller, Inc.’s Insight and Exploration teams looked at the “lived experience” of college students.

The aim of the study was to properly determine how learning styles affect the way some students interact in shared campus spaces.

“There were many studies out there of what happens within the formal learning stage [but] there are very few studies out there that focus on the learning that happens outside of the classroom. […] We thought it was really important to tell that story,” said Susan Whitmer, co-author of Does Space Matter?: Assessing the Undergraduate “Lived Experience to Enhance Learning.

Past literature on user experience, the language of place and space, the role of mobility and technology, the value of community building, and the effect of ambient noise provided clear connections between the effect of physical space and student behavior for the research team, of which was used to connect the dots.

However, what made this study unique was its empathetic approach to planning these spatial designs to encourage student interaction.

“It really is about being in the moment as opposed to being reflective, [and] making sure that you can get data right from the person at the moment that they are experiencing it. The experience is the most important part to understand […] the moment and how they are responding,” Whitmer said.

(Next page: 9 steps to personalized learning spaces)


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