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Article

Informal Learning Spaces in Higher Education: Student Preferences and Activities

1
China Architecture Design & Research Group, Beijing 100044, China
2
Department of Architecture and Built Environment, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK
3
Faculty of Built Environment, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Pamela Woolner, Paula Cardellino and Derek Clements-Croome
Buildings 2021, 11(6), 252; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings11060252
Received: 18 February 2021 / Revised: 28 May 2021 / Accepted: 8 June 2021 / Published: 11 June 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Learning Environment Design and Use)
Informal learning spaces play a significant role in enriching student experiences in learning environments. Such spaces are becoming more common, resulting in a change to the spatial configuration of built environments in higher education. However, previous research lacks methods to evaluate the influence of the spatial design characteristics of informal learning spaces on student preferences and their activities within. This paper aims to tease out the spatial design characteristics of informal learning spaces to examine how they shape students’ preferences in terms of their use of the spaces and what they do within them. The two case studies selected for this study, both in the UK, are the Diamond at the University of Sheffield, and the Newton at Nottingham Trent University. A mixed-methods study is applied, including questionnaires, observation, interviews, and focus groups. Six significant design characteristics (comfort, flexibility, functionality, spatial hierarchy, openness, and other support facilities) that influence student use of informal learning environments are identified. These can be used to inform future design strategies for other informal learning spaces in higher education. View Full-Text
Keywords: informal learning space; spatial organisation; student experience; student behaviour; student preference; spatial evaluation informal learning space; spatial organisation; student experience; student behaviour; student preference; spatial evaluation
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MDPI and ACS Style

Wu, X.; Kou, Z.; Oldfield, P.; Heath, T.; Borsi, K. Informal Learning Spaces in Higher Education: Student Preferences and Activities. Buildings 2021, 11, 252. https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings11060252

AMA Style

Wu X, Kou Z, Oldfield P, Heath T, Borsi K. Informal Learning Spaces in Higher Education: Student Preferences and Activities. Buildings. 2021; 11(6):252. https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings11060252

Chicago/Turabian Style

Wu, Xianfeng, Zhipeng Kou, Philip Oldfield, Tim Heath, and Katharina Borsi. 2021. "Informal Learning Spaces in Higher Education: Student Preferences and Activities" Buildings 11, no. 6: 252. https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings11060252

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