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Learning Enhancement and Development

Session 2B - Workshop

The Pedagogy Of Space: Using the Physical Space As A Learning and Teaching Tool

Session slides

Ms Sheila Egan - Learning Enhancement and Development (LEaD) City, University of London
Mr Dominic Pates - Learning Enhancement and Development (LEaD) City, University of London
Mr James Rutherford - Learning Enhancement and Development (LEaD) City, University of London
Mr James Stewart - Learning Enhancement and Development (LEaD) City, University of London
Mr Santanu Vasant - Learning Enhancement and Development (LEaD) City, University of London

This workshop looks at approaches to making effective use of a learning space for face-to-face teaching. It will take different perspectives for looking at learning spaces, and will include supporting students within a space and using technology in face-to-face teaching. 

There are several drivers of change in the recent development of new campus learning spaces, one significant factor of which is a shift in pedagogy (Jamieson, P. 2003, Lomas, C. & Oblinger, D. 2006, Neary, M. et al, 2009, Van Note Chism, N. 2006). This is seen as a transition from the traditional style of lecture-based teaching, where the one-way transmission of information from academic to student is being questioned as outdated and unsuitable. While newer types of space may more easily enable active learning practices, many institutional learning spaces are still designed around teacher-centred didactic delivery. City’s approach to learning spaces is to optimise the University’s capacity to support flexible modes of education whilst enhancing existing practice, as well as improving spaces to better enable active learning practices.

The pedagogy of space is a complex area of study, although it can be simplified here by looking at a small subset of learning and teaching principles and relevant learning spaces themes. The intention is to introduce principles relating to active student participation and collaborative learning and to understand the potential consequences for the spatial design of learning spaces. It is hoped that this will bring fresh perspectives for staff on how they approach the physical learning space as a teaching tool, whether they are teaching in a ‘traditional’ space or an ‘enhanced’ one.

We will discuss how people are able to move within a space, their comfort and accessibility requirements, and how they switch from listening to a presentation to engaging in active learning sessions. We will consider attendee’s experiential knowledge of learning spaces, as some practical comparison is valuable as a basis of reflection, as well as recording their insights with traditional teaching methods.

New learning environments need a more collaborative, inclusive approach to design and development that reflects how students engage with their learning. But there are challenges, not least with the view of many who do not accept the need to change their delivery to a more active approach. This workshop will address this by encouraging attendees to see a space from different perspectives, by evaluating two differing spatial types and then discussing how they could be used for more effective face to face learning activities.

By the end of the workshop;

  1. Attendees will have explored the impact of space on learning engagement, considering principles and themes that relate to learning and space design and development.
  2. Attendees will have evaluated two typical learning spaces at City against a core set of criteria.
  3. Attendees will have considered a set of practical approaches to consider when using a learning space for face-to-face teaching.


Jamieson, P. (2003) Designing more effective on-campus teaching and learning spaces: A role for academic developers. International Journal for Academic Development, 8 (1-2), pp.119–133

Lomas, C. & Oblinger, D. (2006) Learning Spaces. Chapter 5. Student Practices and Their Impact on Learning Spaces. Educause. Available from: <http://www.educause.edu/learningspacesch2>

Neary, M., Harrison, A., Crellin, G., Parekh,, N., Saunders, G., Duggan, F., Williams, S. & Austin, S. (2009) Learning Landscapes in Higher Education. Centre for Educational Research and Development University of Lincoln. Available from: <http://learninglandscapes.lincoln.ac.uk/> [Accessed 5 April 2012].

Van Note Chism, N. (2006) Learning Spaces. Chapter 2. Challenging Traditional Assumptions and Rethinking Learning Spaces. Educause. Available from: <http://www.educause.edu/learningspacesch2>.