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The finished beginning

Posted on 14 May 2018

The longitudinal New Generation Learning Spaces (NGLS) project, in partnership with the University of Melbourne’s Learning Environments Applied Research Network (LEaRN), presents one of the first longitudinal empirical studies that evaluates the impact of secondary school learning spaces on teaching and learning. It addresses significant gaps in the literature around an approach and a suite of tools able to measure the pedagogical impact of different learning environments.
 
This novel approach isolated the impact of different learning environments to examine then how they influence student and teacher activity and behaviour. The evidence suggests that when considering the impact of the physical learning environment on learning, how it is inhabited is at least as important as its design.
 
Across the five studies, it is clear that the environmental competency of the teacher is a clear predictor on any spatial design to facilitate its intended pedagogical function. Keeping this in mind the empirical evidence does suggest that different learning environments can:
 

  • Significantly influence how technologies (both digital and physical) are used, and therefore, are perceived by students.
  • Increase the instance of active, collaborative, and multiplicitous nature of student-centred learning experiences.
  • Due to changes in pedagogies, affect a statistically significant enhancement of student engagement in their learning.
  • On average, different classroom layout explains seven per cent of the variation in academic outcomes (when student cognitive ability, classroom teacher and class composition is controlled) in each study.
  • On average, when students transition from a conventional classroom to an innovative learning environment (ILE), their academic achievement increases by 15 per cent.
  • Facilitate significant pedagogical change while working within the existing ‘rules of schools’.

 
This suggests that significant changes to the nature of schooling are not required to support those substantial shifts to the teaching environment that are thought to enhance student learning.