The Five Principles of Learning Spaces

The principles below are intended to provide a pedagogical framework for the design of teaching and learning spaces. Each of the five principles is oriented towards facilitating active interaction and ensuring flexibility as follows:

  1. The interaction of students with the content or material being learned. Encouraging active and tailored learning.
  2. The interaction of teaching and learning spaces with social and recreational spaces and the wider environment. Encouraging a cohesive learning experience and promoting well-being.
  3. Interaction between students. Encouraging peer to peer, cooperative and collaborative learning.
  4. Interactions between teachers and students. Encouraging the effective support and facilitation of learning by teaching and research staff.
  5. Flexibility in relation to current and future pedagogies. Encouraging evidence-based practice and innovation in teaching and learning.

The Five Principles

  1. Teaching spaces will allow all students to actively engage with content and include a range of technologies that support multiple modes of teaching[1] and enable personalised forms of learning.
  2. The University will foster a welcoming environment for students well beyond timetabled teaching activities, designed in conjunction with social, learning and recreational spaces so that students’ experience of time spent at the University is coherent and integrated and that their well-being is factored into the learning experience.
  3. Teaching and learning environments will encourage active collaborative interactions between students. Peer learning, in large or small groups, through and with technology, will be key to supporting students to create, develop and extend their own understandings and learning.  Teaching spaces should therefore be designed to an appropriate size to allow for meaningful and comfortable interaction.
  4. Our teaching and learning spaces will allow interaction between teachers and students and will thereby encourage the active facilitation of student learning. This learning environment will be flexible, incorporate appropriate technologies, and have space to move around in by staff and students.
  5. Teaching and learning spaces should be designed using the best current evidence-based practice and flexible enough to allow for emerging and future pedagogies.

By flexible we mean that there is no fixed furniture. That tables and chairs can be moved easily into new and different configurations. Whiteboards will be available on many walls. Technology and charging points will be available for all users of the space.  There will be no fixed lectern, multiple screens will be available.  Storage space (for spare furniture) and storage space for coats, bags etc, will be available.

[1] Finkelstein, A., Ferris, J., Weston, C. & Winer, L (2016) Research-informed principles for (re)designing teaching and learning spaces.  Journal of Learning Spaces, 5 (1) 26-40.

We welcome any thoughts, ideas and changes you believe should be made to these principles, or any challenges you believe we would encounter by implementing these principles.

1 thought on “The Five Principles of Learning Spaces”

  1. It may be implicit in aspects of the principles, but an explicit goal to promote accessibility (for both teachers and students) in spaces would be a good idea. This would go beyond simple compliance with regulations; instead it could be ambitious in catering to people with a wide range of sensory and cognitive (as well as physical) disabilities. There’s an opportunity to involve student and staff disability forums in early thinking and design work.

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