06 SES 08 A, Redesigning Educational Spaces: Working with school communities to develop tools for collaboration
There is currently global interest in the contribution made to education by the physical space and material resources, which had been previously overlooked by researchers and practitioners, if not always policy-makers (Grosvenor & Rosén Rasmussen, 2018). This renewed interest includes enthusiasm from the OECD for 'innovative learning environments' - ILEs (OECD, 2013; 2017) and school building programmes in many countries, some of which mandate a particular, 'innovative', open and flexible design (Bradbeer et al., 2017). Across Europe, new schools are being designed and built: there are or have been government programmes in several countries (e.g. UK, Finland and Portugal), while in others increases in population in specific areas have driven the construction of new buildings (e.g. Iceland and Denmark). In parallel, older schools are being refurbished or redesigned, often with integrated digital technology, to create more innovative and inclusive spaces that are intended to support pupils’ learning more effectively.
Supporting this investment is a body of international research conducted over the last several decades that has made clear the importance of educational settings (see reviews by Stadler-Altmann, 2016, Blackmore et al, 2011, and Higgins et al., 2005). This work shows that the quality and appropriateness of the school space affects school leaders’ organisational decisions, teachers’ pedagogical practices and students’ learning and behaviour (Uline et al., 2009), ultimately impacting educational outcomes including achievement (Maxwell, 2016). However, it has also become clear that the relationship between school premises and education is extremely complex, with few direct causal links between physical elements and learning (Woolner et al, 2007). Instead, the space facilitates or constrains particular activities and behaviour (Sigurðardóttir & Hjartarson, 2011) while reflecting, (Gislason, 2015) and often entrenching, educational values and culture (Elmore, 2016).
Most importantly, the physical environment can be designed or redesigned to enhance the alignment between space and pedagogy (Coelho, 2017; Sigurðardóttir & Hjartarson, 2016) or to better reflect new values, which can be a powerful means to initiate and then support innovation (Woolner et al., 2018). To achieve such alignment of space and purpose would seem to require collaboration between designers and users. Such a participatory approach to developing school space with educators and students is frequently recommended (Weyland et. al., 2019; Woolner, 2015; Blackmore et al, 2011; Parnell et al., 2008), but uncertainties remain about how to do it in practice. Specifically, a recent study notes that a 'gap in the literature is actual strategies and tools for stakeholder participation, especially teachers, in the design of new learning spaces as well as ways of transitioning into these new spaces' (Bøjer, 2019: 45).
Therefore, the aim of this interdisciplinary panel discussion is to consider methods for use across diverse national contexts to enable school communities to develop practice through understanding and changing their physical learning environment. Each speaker will briefly introduce a method or approach that they use in their own research into school environments in their national and cultural contexts (Woolner et al., 2018; Sigurðardóttir, 2018; Coelho, 2017;) and explain how it is currently being developed through collaborations with school communities across Europe into a stand-alone, participatory tool that can be used to evaluate or redesign learning space. This work is being conducted through an Erasmus+ project, Collaborative ReDesign with Schools (CoReD), running from 2019 to 2022 (https://www.ncl.ac.uk/cored/). Panel discussion will enable speakers and participants to explore how these tools could be utilised within their own policy and practice contexts to empower school users through developing knowledge and expertise that enables, for example, 'teachers to turn to material objects in full knowledge of the pedagogic possibilities they open up' (Mulcahy et al., 2015: 590).
Blackmore,J. et al(2011). Research into the connection between built learning spaces and student outcomes, Melbourne: Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Bøjer, B.(2019)Unlocking Learning Spaces, Industrial PhD Thesis, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. Bradbeer,C.et al(2017) The ‘state of play’ concerning New Zealand’s transition to innovative learning environments: Preliminary results from phase one of the ILETC project, Journal of Educational Leadership Policy and Practice,32(1):22-38 Coelho, C.(2017). Life within architecture from design process to space use. Adaptability in school buildings today – A methodological approach. PhD Thesis. Departamento de Arquitetura. Universidade de Coimbra. Elmore,R.F.(2016).‘‘Getting to scale…’’ it seemed like a good idea at the time. Journal of Educational Change,17(4):529–537. Gislason,N.(2015). The open plan high school: educational motivations and challenges. In P.Woolner(ed) School Design Together. Abingdon:Routledge. Grosvenor,I. and Rasmussen,L.R.(eds)(2018). Making Education: Governance by Design. Springer Higgins,S. et al (2005). The Impact of School Environments: A literature review. London:Design Council. Maxwell,L.(2016) School building condition, social climate, student attendance and academic achievement: A mediation model.Journal of Environmental Psychology,46:206-216 Mulcahy,D. et al(2015). Learning Spaces and Pedagogic Change: Envisioned, Enacted and Experienced. Pedagogy, Culture and Society,23(4):575–595. OECD (2013) Innovative Learning Environments. Paris:OECD. OECD (2017) The OECD Handbook for Innovative Learning Environments. Paris:OECD. Parnell,R. et al(2008). School design: Opportunities through collaboration. Co-Design,4(4):211-224. Sigurðardóttir, A.K. (2018). Student-centred classroom environments in upper secondary school: Students’ ideas about good spaces for learning vs. actual arrangements. In Benade,L. and Jackson, M.(eds). Transforming Education: Design & Governance in Global Contexts. Springer Sigurðardóttir, A.K. and Hjartarson, T. (2016). The Idea and Reality of an Innovative School: From Inventive Design to Established Practice in a New School Building. Improving Schools,19(1):62–79. Stadler-Altmann, U. (ed)(2016)(Hrsg.), Lernumgebungen. Erziehungswissenschaftliche Perspektiven auf Schulgebäude und Klassenzimmer [Learning Environment. Educational and Architectual Perspectives], Opladen, Berlin, Toronto: Barbara Budrich. Uline,C.L. et al (2009).The walls still speak: The stories occupants tell. Journal of Educational Administration,47(3):400–426. Woolner, P. (2015)(Ed.) School Design Together, Abingdon: Routledge Woolner, P. et al (2007) A sound foundation? What we know about the impact of environments on learning and the implications for Building Schools for the Future. Oxford Review of Education,33(1):47-70. Woolner P, Thomas,U, Tiplady,L. (2018) Structural change from physical foundations: The role of the environment in enacting school change. Journal of Educational Change,19(2):223-242. Weyland, B.; Stadler-Altmann, U.; Galetti,A.; Prey,K. (2019), Scuole in Movimento. Progettare insieme tra pedagogia, architettura e design [Schools moving. Planning together between pedagogy, architecture and design], Franco Angeli
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