Special Issue "Learning Environment Design and Use"

A special issue of Buildings (ISSN 2075-5309). This special issue belongs to the section "Building Energy, Physics, Environment, and Systems".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 December 2021) | Viewed by 11912

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Pamela Woolner
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK
Interests: design, use, and evaluation of educational spaces
Prof. Dr. Paula Cardellino
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Facultad de Arquitectura, Universidad ORT Uruguay, Montevideo, Uruguay
Interests: design of school environments for educational change—what learning spaces and people can do together

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Amid burgeoning international interest in the built environment of education, this SI will examine the research, policy, and practice that lies behind the global trends in architecture and pedagogy. We aim to develop an interdisciplinary understanding of the processes and products of school design at all stages, from ‘visioning’ and brief, through habitation and use, to post-occupancy evaluation. The intention is to build knowledge relating to successful design, educational affordances and outcomes, change management, and the alignment of physical resources with teaching and learning needs. We will explore the multiprofessional landscape of educational spaces as they are planned, built, and used, intending to find a shared language to discuss intentions, processes, and outcomes. Reflecting the diversity of the area, the SI editors anticipate empirical work using a wide range of methodologies, transdisciplinary reviews and novel theoretical framings. We are particularly interested in receiving co-authored papers whose authorship bridges academic disciplines, research and practice, or research and policy. The over-arching aim is to capture the diversity of research related to learning environments.

Prof. Dr. Pamela Woolner
Prof. Dr. Paula Cardellino
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Buildings is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Educational facilities
  • Infrastructure
  • School space
  • 21st century learning
  • Design process
  • Innovative learning environments (ILEs)
  • Interdisciplinary
  • End-users
  • Teaching practices
  • Collaboration

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Learning Environment Design and Use
Buildings 2022, 12(5), 666; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings12050666 - 17 May 2022
Viewed by 418
Abstract
Reflecting a global trend of increased school construction, research into the built environment of education has multiplied over the last two decades [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Learning Environment Design and Use)

Research

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Article
Survey on Student School Spaces: An Inclusive Design Tool for a Better School
Buildings 2022, 12(4), 392; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings12040392 - 22 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 803
Abstract
This paper presents interdisciplinary research focused on the collaborative redesign in schools, in which an inclusive design tool was created for assessing student feedback on their school spaces and considering it as input for creating a better learning environment. It was developed by [...] Read more.
This paper presents interdisciplinary research focused on the collaborative redesign in schools, in which an inclusive design tool was created for assessing student feedback on their school spaces and considering it as input for creating a better learning environment. It was developed by a research team using a participatory approach in schools drawn from architecture, geography, and educational sciences, to provide a comprehensive and intertwined approach to school spaces, communities and learning activities. The “Survey on Student School Spaces” (S3S) tool and its methodology are described here, which is a combination of two procedures: a questionnaire and a walkthrough. The first engages a far-reaching sample of participants and makes use of an online platform, while the latter details and justifies those outputs and involves visiting the school with the participants. The S3S pilot study was implemented in two partner schools, which act as the first project case studies. The data provided by this tool acted as the basis for the design proposal for one of the case studies, which included the students’ feedback and involved all the community in the school’s refurbishment. Finally, a discussion was held on the outputs achieved that may contribute towards a participatory design approach in other schools, the validation of the tool per se, and its potential future development and application. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Learning Environment Design and Use)
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Article
Affordances, Architecture and the Action Possibilities of Learning Environments: A Critical Review of the Literature and Future Directions
Buildings 2022, 12(1), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings12010076 - 13 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 954
Abstract
This paper critically reviews the body of literature on affordances relating to the design and inhabitation of school buildings. Focusing on the influence of learning spaces on pedagogical practices, we argue that links between affordances, architecture and the action possibilities of school-based environments [...] Read more.
This paper critically reviews the body of literature on affordances relating to the design and inhabitation of school buildings. Focusing on the influence of learning spaces on pedagogical practices, we argue that links between affordances, architecture and the action possibilities of school-based environments have largely been overlooked and that such links hold great promise for better aligning space and pedagogy—especially amidst changing expectations of what effective teaching and learning ‘looks like’. Emerging innovative learning environments (ILEs) are designed to enable a wider pedagogical repertoire than traditional classrooms. In order to transcend stereotypical understandings about how the physical environment in schools may afford teaching and learning activities, it is becoming increasingly recognised that both design and practice reconceptualisation is required for affordances of new learning environments to be effectively actualised in support of contemporary education. With a focus on the environmental perceptions of architects, educators and learners, we believe affordance theory offers a useful framework for thinking about the design and use of learning spaces. We argue that Gibson’s affordance theory should be more commonly applied to help situate conversations between designers and users about how physical learning environments are conceived, perceived and actioned for effective teaching and learning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Learning Environment Design and Use)
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Article
Analyzing the Time-Varying Thermal Perception of Students in Classrooms and Its Influencing Factors from a Case Study in Xi’an, China
Buildings 2022, 12(1), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings12010075 - 13 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 471
Abstract
Owing to movement in the spatial environment and changes in activity levels, students’ thermal perception is time varying in classrooms throughout different periods of the day. However, previous studies have rarely considered the time-varying thermal perception in different periods of the day, which [...] Read more.
Owing to movement in the spatial environment and changes in activity levels, students’ thermal perception is time varying in classrooms throughout different periods of the day. However, previous studies have rarely considered the time-varying thermal perception in different periods of the day, which may cause discomfort for students and lead to energy wastage. Therefore, a study was conducted to investigate the time-varying thermal perception of students and its influencing factors in different classes of the day. In addition, the differences in students’ adaptive behaviors in different periods were also explored. A total of 578 university students were surveyed using questionnaire surveys during the heating season in Xi’an, China. The following results can be obtained: (1) The thermal sensation vote and thermal preference vote values in the afternoon were significantly higher than those in the morning. At the start of the first class in the morning/afternoon, the thermal sensation of the students had the highest sensitivity to outdoor temperature changes. (2) The students’ thermal perception was greatly affected by the preclass activity state at the start of the first class in the morning/afternoon. However, in other periods, the above phenomenon was not obvious. (3) In the afternoon, the frequency of clothing adjustment was greater than that in the morning, and this behavior would significantly affect the students’ thermal sensation. (4) Compared with the current classroom heating strategy, the heating strategy of dynamically adjusting the indoor set temperature according to the time-varying characteristics of the students can theoretically achieve energy savings of 25.6%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Learning Environment Design and Use)
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Article
Design Framework and Principles for Learning Environment Co-Design: Synthesis from Literature and Three Empirical Studies
Buildings 2021, 11(12), 581; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings11120581 - 25 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1322
Abstract
The need for environments conducive to learning and wellbeing has been broadly recognised. Considering particularly learner perceptions in the learning environment design is known to improve both their learning and wellbeing. There are no, however, shared theoretical frameworks guiding the learning environment co-design [...] Read more.
The need for environments conducive to learning and wellbeing has been broadly recognised. Considering particularly learner perceptions in the learning environment design is known to improve both their learning and wellbeing. There are no, however, shared theoretical frameworks guiding the learning environment co-design from the learner perspective. As a response to this challenge, a learning environment design (LED) framework was developed based on the literature and co-design involving learners aged 7 to 19 (n = 342) in Finland (n = 266) and Spain (n = 76). The LED framework entails 53 characteristics grouped under seven constructs. It draws attention to the importance of balancing communality with individuality, comfort with health, and novelty with conventionality. Flexibility and functionality are recognised as central enablers for a quality learning environment. The study suggests a design framework and principles for learning environment co-design. They can serve as a research-based introduction to the topic after which priorities can be defined based on the concrete design target and goals, and concrete design solutions can be created in the participatory design involving learners and other key stakeholders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Learning Environment Design and Use)
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Article
The Influence of Learning Styles on Perception and Preference of Learning Spaces in the University Campus
Buildings 2021, 11(12), 572; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings11120572 - 23 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 745
Abstract
Good academic performance will occur when learning spaces match or support individual preference and needs. This effect depends on environmental characteristics and individual attributes. Learning styles (LSs) have been used as a tool to capture the behavioral and psychological characteristics of learners in [...] Read more.
Good academic performance will occur when learning spaces match or support individual preference and needs. This effect depends on environmental characteristics and individual attributes. Learning styles (LSs) have been used as a tool to capture the behavioral and psychological characteristics of learners in the process of learning activities, which provide instructions to address their learning needs. However, few have focused on the perceptual characteristics of learning space from the view of distinct learning styles. The research aims to identify which kinds of learning spaces in university campus have been preferred by students with different learning styles respectively and the spatial characteristics which have significant influence on the distinct evaluation results; the research consists of 178 college students’ LSs measurement conducted by the Index of Learning Styles questionnaire and their subjective assessment to five typical learning spaces obtained by 5-point Likert-type scale. Then, the key spatial influencing factors were identified by the focus group interviews; the results firstly ranked the learning spaces according to their satisfaction evaluation and restorative potential. The self-study rooms are rated highest, followed by professional classroom, traditional classroom, and multimedia classroom. Then, two dimensions of learning styles were proved as having considerable effects on perception. Specifically, there are significant differences between visual and verbal learners’ evaluations of multimedia classrooms and traditional classrooms, and between global and sequential learners’ evaluations of multimedia classrooms, informal learning spaces, and learning buildings. The other two dimensions including perceiving and remembering have no obvious impacts on learners’ perception of any learning spaces. At last, the important influence factors of perceptions of five typical learning spaces were identified, respectively, and their different effects on various groups were discussed. For example, the serious atmosphere in traditional classrooms was regarded as a motivation for sensing learners but a stress for intuitive learners. The studies emphasize the perceptual difference on learning space in terms of students’ unique learning styles and key points for each kind of learning space with regard to satisfaction of personalized needs. However, before it can be used by designers as tools, more research is needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Learning Environment Design and Use)
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Article
Pedagogical Walks through Open and Sheltered Spaces: A Post-Occupancy Evaluation of an Innovative Learning Environment
Buildings 2021, 11(11), 503; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings11110503 - 25 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1154
Abstract
This paper describes a post-occupancy evaluation of a school building in Iceland that combines open and confined spaces, designed for manifold pedagogical approaches and multiple uses. The school was built for students at the primary and lower secondary school levels and serves a [...] Read more.
This paper describes a post-occupancy evaluation of a school building in Iceland that combines open and confined spaces, designed for manifold pedagogical approaches and multiple uses. The school was built for students at the primary and lower secondary school levels and serves a neighborhood still under construction in a coastal town about 40 km from Iceland’s capital area. The building will be an essential part of a larger complex, constituting the heart of its neighborhood, including a compulsory school tied into a preschool, a public library, sports facilities, and a site for local events. Our aim was to map how plans for this innovative learning environment have succeeded, as viewed by practitioners and students. Several research interviews with leaders of the building project and a method called pedagogical walk-throughs were used to collect data. Four focus groups of teachers, teaching assistants, and students were asked to review selected sections of the building. The results serve to show the strengths and weaknesses of the design, as perceived by participants, as well as commend the methodology applied. They provide insights and considerations of value for anyone involved in the design and application of educational spaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Learning Environment Design and Use)
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Article
Crossing Contexts: Applying a System for Collaborative Investigation of School Space to Inform Design Decisions in Contrasting Settings
Buildings 2021, 11(11), 496; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings11110496 - 21 Oct 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 703
Abstract
This paper presents a system for participatory appraisal and idea generation by a school’s users to enable interdisciplinary collaboration between educators and architects, producing school designs appropriate to the needs of the school at the time and into the future. Our uses of [...] Read more.
This paper presents a system for participatory appraisal and idea generation by a school’s users to enable interdisciplinary collaboration between educators and architects, producing school designs appropriate to the needs of the school at the time and into the future. Our uses of this system in two contrasting educational settings in England and in Uruguay are described. We show how the visual-spatial activities supported the educators to consider education in spatial terms, build a shared understanding and produce representations that could be used to convey ideas to architects and designers. Given that participation and cross-disciplinary collaboration in school design is known to be challenging, but vital, we consider the features of our approach that enabled its success and make it viable on each and every occasion of school design or redesign. Further, addressing the critiques of attempted international transfer of architectural designs, educational policies, practices and buildings, we argue that our system avoids these problems through seeking to transfer not a project but the means to enable participation in a project. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Learning Environment Design and Use)
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Article
Designing and Building Robust Innovative Learning Environments
Buildings 2021, 11(8), 345; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings11080345 - 11 Aug 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1720
Abstract
Prior research shows that creating innovative learning spaces that work well for pupils and teachers is a challenge which implicates different stakeholders. The aim of this article is to inquire into how educational visions evolve and are expressed through the different phases of [...] Read more.
Prior research shows that creating innovative learning spaces that work well for pupils and teachers is a challenge which implicates different stakeholders. The aim of this article is to inquire into how educational visions evolve and are expressed through the different phases of two school design processes as well as visualize how stakeholders’ roles in the processes result in innovative learning environments and practices that work well. The data consists of photographs from school visits, briefs, and interviews. The material is analyzed with a particular focus on educational vision, organization, and working methods. An analytical model showing the stakeholders’ levels of participation at each stage is revised and developed. The results indicate four common themes: Continuity (several stakeholders involved in more than one phase); Preparation (processes were long-term, continuous, and iterative, with future users testing and evaluating prototypes and other innovative interior design elements to be used in the new spaces); Alignment (early and extensive considerations of the school’s organization and working methods); and Participation (multi-professional teams with representation of a pedagogical perspective at the higher levels of participation). From this, it can be concluded that achieving robust, innovative learning environments involves stakeholders’ regard to the aspects of knowledge, education, organization, and economy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Learning Environment Design and Use)
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Article
Informal Learning Spaces in Higher Education: Student Preferences and Activities
Buildings 2021, 11(6), 252; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings11060252 - 11 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1714
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Learning Environment Design and Use)
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