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Design for Learning Spaces in Higher Education


Design for Learning Spaces in Higher Education

BACKGROUND

THE SETTING

PURPOSE

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he field of higher education faces many challenges, primarily driven by sweeping changes in how technology is used in the learning process, and by an expansion in the variety of learning styles favored by students. These trends are influenced by the large influx of Generation Y students, with their penchant for collaboration and constant communication, and by the widespread use of personal computing and communication devices. Further, competition to attract top students has never been greater, presenting the challenge of how to design learning spaces and deploy technology to positively influence the institutional brand and image to current and prospective students. Together, these forces are changing how learning spaces should be designed to best support the learning experience.

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o this end, Knoll conducted a research project with a higher education institution to evaluate the effectiveness of its current learning spaces and to provide guidance for re-design. The intention of this case study is to share the issues we studied, the methods and tools used, and, most importantly, the performance guidelines for design of learning spaces developed as a result of this project.

ince 1995, the school in the case study has tripled its number of students, faculty, and research dollars. The current building is 20 years old, has limited flexibility, and offers minimal support for collaboration among faculty, and between faculty and students. The teaching spaces neither support multiple teaching and learning styles nor reflect the expectations of Generation Y students or younger faculty for technology and learning environments. Moreover, the current facility has limited effectiveness as a tool to convey the message and brand to prospective students and faculty. A new nine-story building and a glass bridge will link the two structures. The new building will have technologically sophisticated “smart” classrooms, three floors of wet laboratories, offices, conference space, and a 250-seat auditorium. It will be built to meet silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) requirements.

his study provided the school administration with an evaluation of current classroom spaces, furnishings and technology in terms of how these factors support effective teaching and learning—from both the teachers’ and students’ perspectives. In addition, we conducted analyses to determine which design features influence teaching quality outcomes and quality of the student learning experience. Key Findings: Design Capabilities for Effective Classrooms

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he results of this study show that the quality of the teaching and educational experience for students and faculty depends largely on the flexibility of the classroom space, the ability to reconfigure classroom furnishings, and the ability to reconfigure technology within the classroom space.

METHODS Flexibility and reconfigurability are directly linked to the quality of the teaching and educational experiences

Classroom Design and Technology Assessment

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n this project, we designed and deployed two separate electronic surveys, gathering responses from 92


faculty and 295 graduate students on the following topics:

Type and frequency of different teaching and learning styles

Analyses

Type and frequency of use of classroom technology

Functional design assessment of classrooms

Classroom technology assessment

Classroom comfort and aesthetics

Flexibility and adjustment of classroom features and technology

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aculty and student demographic data were also collected: job level, year in school, gender and generational affiliation. Outcomes •

We collected survey responses on a variety of outcomes related to teaching effectiveness and quality of learning experience:

Quality of communication among students; and between students and faculty

Quality of collaboration among students; and between students and faculty

Level of student and faculty engagement with the school (sense of belonging, commitment, etc)

Quality of the “image” conveyed by the school to faculty and students

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e used a statistical technique called “multiple regression” to reveal relationships between design features, furnishings, and technology, and the outcome measures. We included demographic characteristics of the population (generational affiliation, job level, gender, year in school) in these analyses. Explanation of Multiple Regression Analysis

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ultiple regression allows us to identify which variables actually predict an outcome in the real world. In this report we apply multiple regression to show the real, predictive relationships between classroom space design features, furnishings and technology characteristics, and outcomes such as student and faculty collaboration, engagement, and communication.

Both professors and students must be able to “control” the physical classroom effectively in order to produce a successful teaching and learning experience. Multiple regression is a powerful analysis technique that can reveal facts about relationships between variables that are difficult or impossible to detect with other types of analyses.

RESULTS

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n this section we provide a summary of the results of the multiple regression analysis of the survey data. The goal of these analyses is to identify which features of classroom spaces and technology are related to quality of the learning experience.

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he results of this study show that the quality of the teaching and educational experience for students and faculty depends largely on the flexibility of classroom space, the ease of reconfiguration of classroom furniture, and ease of reconfiguration of classroom technology. Both professors and students must be able to “control” the classroom environment effectively in order to produce a successful teaching and learning experience. Primary Influences 1. Flexibility of Classroom Space: The analyses show that the capability of classroom spaces to support different teaching styles is a significant predictor of student engagement, communication, collaboration, image, and making students feel valued. Thus, these results show that the more flexible the classroom space is in terms of supporting different teaching styles, the better the level of student engagement, communication, collaboration, student feelings of being valued, and the school conveying the right image to students.


2. Ease of Reconfiguration of Classroom Furniture: The analyses show that ease of reconfiguration of classroom furniture is a significant predictor of: student engagement, communication, and collaboration. Thus, these results show that the easier it is to reconfigure classroom furnishings, the better the level of communication between students, collaboration, and student and faculty engagement with the school. 3. Ease of Reconfiguration of Classroom Technology: The analyses show that ease of reconfiguring classroom technology is a significant predictor of quality of conversations between faculty and students, ability to get to know students, and conveying a positive image of the school image to students. Thus, these results show that the easier it is to modify classroom technology, the easier it is for faculty to communicate and collaborate with students and the better the image of the school with students.

RECOMMENDATIONS

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n this section we translate the research results into design recommendations. These recommendations are intended to serve as design performance guidelines, not specific design solutions. Optimize Flexibility of Classroom Furnishings 1. One Space, Many Uses: Select multiple-use furnishings for use within classrooms. For example, meeting tables can serve multiple purposes; a single table can serve as a worksurface for individual tasks, and can be linked to others for small team activities. Ensure that furnishings provide sufficient

worksurface area for students and faculty. Provide some heightadjustable tables designed to meet minimum ADA requirements in each classroom. For the many different learning activities that students engage in, select seating that can support a variety of non-traditional postures (not just seated forward and upright) and provides flexibility to support a smooth transition between individual and collaborative activities. Consider storage solutions that can also double as dividers of the space and can serve as movable boundaries between various types of ongoing activities within a classroom. 1. Change Your Point of View: The ability to easily change the focal point of interaction between students and the teacher is important to support different t e a c h i n g styles—and a diversity of cultural learning norms. The classroom must be flexible enough to

support many learning styles— written, verbal, and interactive. A well-designed, flexible classroom space allows faculty optional choices for configuring specific learning experiences. Specify classroom furnishings that can be easily moved by faculty and students to create different configurations within the space. Optimize Flexibility of Facility and Classroom Spaces 1. Learning Happens Everywhere: Learning occurs in numerous and disparate places. The facility is one part of a bigger system— the campus—and thus should be designed to support informal learning and intellectual sharing as the dominant social activity. 2. Support a Variety of Group Activities: Create small breakout rooms or larger spaces suited to formal and informal meetings, with the right furnishings and technology for the teaching and learning work at hand. 3. “Always On” Learning Culture: The facility should be designed to


facilitate learning, not just during regularly scheduled class hours, but also for study groups, independent research, open lab time, and other innovative uses of the space to maximize the return on investment. Optimize Flexibility of Technology 1. A Virtual World: The technology provided to support learning in the classroom should be easily updated, accessible for all users, and have the capability of providing immediate learning opportunities for both students in the room as well as external participants who may be remotely logged in. It should accommodate both the virtual and physical worlds. 2. Maximize Safety: Ensure that technology devices and their input devices are specified and arranged to minimize awkward postures and support flow of teaching and learning tasks. 3. Zone the Technology: Consider placing whiteboards or other display technology at several locations within the classroom to support several concurrent activities. Ideally, vary the lighting intensity within different areas of the classroom to suit different

CONCLUSIONS

experience. We share and apply what we learn to inform product development and help our customers shape their work environments.

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types of concurrent individual and small team work.

earning space design requirements and strategies are never “cookie cutter� across higher education organizations. However, in this case study we have been able to broadly identify several space features/capabilities that directly affect the quality of the learning experience for higher education students. Because of the research methods and analysis techniques we used, the recommendations can be applied to most higher education organizations that are attempting to provide high quality learning experience for their students.

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n addition, we have found in working with many organizations that a program to regularly assess internal customer workspace needs and satisfaction can be an effective means of anticipating space use trends and optimizing the space. This type of regular assessment also brings credibility to the team responsible for managing facilities when making the case to management for change and investment.

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noll research investigates links between workspace design and human behavior, health and performance, and the quality of the user

o learn more about this topic or other research resources Knoll can provide, visit www.knoll.com/research/index.jsp


Project Profiles - Higher Education

Blackboard

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global leader in education technology, Blackboard® works to help its clients enrich all aspects of the education experience, whether in a K-12 school, on a college campus, in the workplace or throughout a community. When Blackboard decided to merge its Baby Boomer and Generation X office with its Millennials office in San Francisco, the Company wanted furniture that would create engaging work environments to address the workstyle needs of both groups. Antenna Workspaces™ flexible approach to workplace design presented the perfect solution, giving all generations of workers the freedom and mobility they desired.

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ntenna Workspaces™ establishes connections and boundaries between diverse work areas with flexibility and grace in Blackboard’s open plan, using Linked Workspaces Desks with Fence Spine and Freestanding Workspaces Desks. For additional collaborative spaces), Blackboard also selected streamlined AutoStrada™ storage-anchored furniture with low add-up glass panels. Awarded level™ 3 BIFMA Certification from Scientific Certification Systems, Antenna Workspaces™ and AutoStrada™ deliver high performance, sustainable solutions for the open plan.


Project Profiles - Higher Education

Leeds School of Business University of Colorado-Boulder

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he Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado-Boulder has a new environmentally friendly home. Constructed in 2007, the Koelbel Building, which is LEED® Gold certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, features a 20% improvement in energy savings and other environmental benefits compared to other buildings on campus. The School selected Knoll to furnish faculty and staff offices, lounge areas, conference rooms, study rooms, and other public areas with a diverse offering of products that helped it achieve LEED® certification.

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or busy college students, Propeller® tables, shown left with Soho side chairs, can be set up quickly for groups or reconfigured with privacy screens for individual study. Propeller® conference tables and Open Up chairs, cover, give the large, open conference room a comfortable yet professional feel. Administrative and faculty areas, right, feature Morrison workstations with Chadwick™ chairs. Morrison is GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified® and manufactured using clean technologies; it contains 20-30% recycled content steel and 100% recycled content particleboard.


Project Profiles - Higher Education

North Carolina Public University

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hen this Public University moved to its new space in Charlotte, North Carolina, the University worked with Knoll and U.S. Communities to meet the unique layout and technology demands of each department with products that complemented each other. The University selected AutoStrada™ for its private offices, which supports evolving workplace needs with an innovative design and a consistent, universal aesthetic. Additional offices feature Antenna® Workspaces, which combines a rigorous standard of functional simplicity with a pure, honest approach to materials, offering a dynamic workspace.

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rivate offices throughout the facility feature Shelton Mindel side chairs, offering a contemporary approach to a traditional wood guest chair. The Dividends Horizon® open plan work areas feature upmounted glass, which delineates space and offers greater privacy while maintaining equal access to natural light in each workstation. Generation by Knoll® seating through the office facilitates changes in posture and position throughout the workday. Award-winning Sapper™ Monitor Arms in private offices and the open plan office support the changing demands of technology while helping to plan space efficiently.


Project Profiles - Higher Education

Yale University Paul Rudolph Hall

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aul Rudolph Hall is Yale University’s Center for Art and Architecture. The Yale arts complex, which was renovated in November, includes Rudolph Hall, the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library and the Jeffrey Loria Center for the History of Arts.

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hen Yale renovated the space, it sought furniture that would not only complement the postmodern design of the building, but also reflect the organic shapes within the structure.Thus, the university selected Knoll seating and coffee tables to fill and create this dynamic space.

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aarinen Womb chairs mirror the design of the building, playing off of the round shapes in the ceiling and staircase. With its enveloping shape and foam cushion, the Womb chair brings extraordinary comfort and style to the Rudolph Hall lounge.

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he Laccio table balances both square and curvilinear shapes with its smooth, rectangular surface and tubular, chrome legs, providing space for Yale Students to study and collaborate on projects.


Project Profiles - Higher Education

Stephen Hawking Centre at Perimeter Institute

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hen Canada’s focal point for theoretical physics expanded to include the Stephen Hawking Centre at Perimeter Institute, it turned to Knoll to create an environment that would inspire the Centre’s resident scientists and easily accommodate the hundreds of international researchers that come to the centre for collaborations and workshops each year.

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or its research spaces, the Centre selected a mix of Dividends Horizon®, which features new furniture elements that reflect contemporary workstyles, and Template™ storage solutions, which create spaceefficient storage options. Private offices feature either Template™, which responds to workplace trends and provides a more open, articulated office landscape or Currents Upstart® Tables, which offer practical, versatile solutions that address the range of functional and aesthetic needs of today’s workplace. Private offices also feature Moment™ side chairs and Calibre mobile pedestals. Generation by Knoll®, used throughout the space, facilitates changes in posture throughout the workday. Its unique Flex Back extends the range of movement and is designed to allow users to sit comfortably in any position. The main entrance area features Saarinen Womb Chairs and Platner coffee tables and the breakout room includes Florence Knoll lounge seating, coffee and end tables and Bertoia Diamond chairs.


Project Profiles - Higher Education

UW Medicine

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art of the University of Washington, UW Medicine works to improve the health of the public by advancing medical knowledge and providing outstanding primary and specialty medical care. When UW Medicine decided to outfit their new laboratory building, they worked with design firm Perkins + Will and principal Robin Wille, Wille Inc., to select Knoll furnishings for use throughout the facility. Their vision was one of innovation, energy efficiency and sustainability. Accordingly, they chose SMART© certified Life® tasks chairs for their meeting rooms and conference spaces. Set within the glass interiors of the new building, iconic Knoll designs punctuate the space with modern grace and style. Overlooking views of downtown Seattle, a light-filled conference room, cover, showcases SMART© certified Chadwick™ task chairs. In the lounge, left, SM1 sofas from Shelton Mindel offer comfortable collaborative areas for scientists and students, while Saarinen Womb chairs complement the foliage outdoors, bringing outside in. Florence Knoll benches and Pfister sofas, top right, create a neutral palette in a UW medicine sitting area. A conference room features Life® task chairs. The cafeteria, bottom right, is outfitted with Arena café tables and GREENGUARD Certified® Gigi® chairs.


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Design for Learning Spaces in Higher Education  

Design for Learning Spaces in Higher Education