27 SES 04 A, Participatory and Contextualised Development of the Physical School Environment to Facilitate Educational Change: Three Case Studies
This symposium presents three diverse case studies of schools in three countries where the physical environment has been designed or adapted with the explicit aim of facilitating particular learning and social practices or fulfilling specific educational goals. They form examples of designing for the future in order not only to be prepared for some of the changes that might take place, but also to influence school processes in accordance with new knowledge, ideas or policy(OECD,2006). Our recognition of this area as fundamentally interdisciplinary is reflected in the backgrounds of the authors and discussant, which include education, sociology and architecture.
We reject simple physical determinism, and the evidence base relating to the absolute impact of the physical setting on learning is complex, yet research shows that different settings facilitate some pedagogical and social practices while hindering others. For example, in classrooms organised in a traditional manner, there tends to be a more teacher-centred approach to learning with less student collaboration (Sigurðardóttir & Hjartson,2011). This relationship of the school environment to practices has suggested to some educators and school leaders that changing the physical setting is an effective way of initiating or supporting change (e.g.Briggs, 2001). Yet the results of such environmentally-led change are mixed. Sometimes changes to the physical setting facilitate other development (Uline et al., 2009), but classroom space can be changed quite dramatically without much resulting change in pedagogical practices (Bennett et al., 1980).
It is suggested that the way that change is imposed or enacted, and specifically the extent to which it is ‘bottom-up’ and participatory may be important to success and sustainability (Woolner et al., 2012). Within architecture, one example of such an approach is the Design Down Process (Copa & Pease, 1992; Jilk, 2005) where a carefully chosen group of stakeholders collaboratively engage in intensive work to prepare new school buildings: they define the aspirations and local needs developing a rough layout for the building.
These case studies present instances of relative success, where concern with the physical school setting and the inclusion of specific features has produced demonstrable impact on learning and social practices. In each case study, we investigate the process through which the environment affects practice; in particular examining concurrent developments in organisational structures, teacher and learner roles and the resulting culture of education in these schools. We will use and develop the conceptual framework suggested by Gislason for understanding learning environments. His model (reproduced below) has four components: staff culture, student culture, 'organisation', comprised of aspects such as timetabling and curriculum, and 'ecology', comprised of physical and technological resources (Gislason, 2010: 129).
Our analysis suggests the importance of participatory processes that involve a range of actors in decision-making and where school environment is understood as part of the pedagogical, cultural and organisational context.
Bennett,N.et al(1980).Open plan schools.Windsor:NFER.
Briggs,A.(2001) Managing the Learning Environment Middlewood and Burton(eds) Managing the Curriculum. London: Sage.
Copa,G.H.&Pease,V.H.(1992). A new vision for the comprehensive high school. Preparing students for a changing world. St. Paul,MN:University of Minnesota,
Gislason,N.(2010). Architectural design and the learning environment: A framework for school design research Learning Environments Research, 13, 127–145.
Jilk,B.A.(2005). Place making and change in learning environments. M. Dudek (ed.), Children’s spaces.Oxford:Architectural Press.
OECD (2006). 21st Century learning environments. Paris:OECD
Sigurðardóttir, A.K.&Hjartson,T(2011). School buildings for the 21st century. Some features of new school buildings in Iceland.CEPS Journal, 1(2):25-43.
Uline,C. L.et al(2009).The walls still speak: The stories occupants tell. Journal of Educational Administration, 47(3):400–426.
Woolner,P.et al(2012) Changed learning through changed space: When can a participatory approach to the learning environment challenge preconceptions and alter practice? Improving Schools 15(1):45-60.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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