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Learning Research Updates

Steelcase Active Learning Classroom Grant Report

July 8, 2019
Alex Ambrose

Ambrose, G. Alex (2019) “Building Flexible Learning Spaces Utilizing Faculty & Student Driven Design.” Steelcase Active Learning Center Grant Report

In the summer of 2017, the University of Notre Dame was awarded a $65K furniture grant from Steelcase Educations’s Active Learning Center. Notre Dame’s Office of Facilities Design and Operations contributed $50k in classroom renovation funding and the Office of Information Technologies $25K in technology funding to renovate Debartolo Hall 232 into a state-of-the-art prototype flexible classroom to maximize interactive learning. Over the next two years the team at Notre Dame developed and refined a five-step methodology to evaluate the design impact of our prototype learning space to answer five guiding research questions:

  1. How do we assess and visualize the comparison of a prototype learning space to a typical classroom?
  2. How were specific learning space design features perceived by faculty and students?
  3. Which learning space design dimensions (furniture, technology, or environment) do faculty and students value the most?
  4. What are the impacts of the learning space on faculty and students?
  5. What were the major challenges and lessons learned from this learning space innovation grant?

The two biggest conclusions from our learning space report card and evaluation survey instrument were a) faculty and students in the prototype gave more than a letter grade higher (C–>B+) than their counterparts in the typical classroom b) seven out of the 9 (77%) of our design feature changes to the prototype classroom had a positive and improved effect on faculty and students.