In one classroom with no tables, just comfortable chairs in a circle, one faculty member consistently pulled a table in front of her seat and lectured from that position.
Hunley and Schaller, 2006
The EDUCAUSE e-book chapter on assessing learner spaces looks at feedback on learning spaces in the US. It outlines situations that encourage and discourage students with regard to the use of Learning Space including comment on evidence that academic engagement is encouraged by learning spaces that are ‘comfortable, open, flexible and appealing’.
Engagement for students was found to be higher when the settings and academic activities involved encouraged technology-supported interpersonal interaction. Students described classes in one of the innovative spaces as requiring more accountability on their part because there were few physical barriers between themselves and their tutors.
Students were most engaged in settings and in academic activities that encouraged interpersonal interaction and were supported by technology. By comparison, in more traditional classrooms with seats arranged in rows and the instructor at the front of the room, they felt they had less responsibility for participation.
Poor air circulation, uncomfortable temperatures, non-interactive pedagogical practices and distractions were also identified as factors that actively discourage student engagement.
Feedback from staff on spaces can differ significantly. Some staff will embrace the space and be very open about their use of it and its potential, whilst others will endeavour to replicate a traditional lecture theatre feel in the space.
The University of Georgia have kindly provided a summary of their experiences of evaluation relating to their Student Learning Center.