Planning for Assessing 21st Century Learning Spaces for 21st Century Learners

A Guide: Planning for Assessing 21st Century Spaces for 21st Century Learners

The premise for the Guide was that planning for assessing 21st century learning spaces is an opportunity for building community, for nurturing and ensuring wide-spread awareness that space matters to learning.

We invite your attention to these Reflections from Adrianna Kezar, Professor of Higher Education, University of Southern California.


Using this Guide to Create Institutional Change: A View from a Higher Education Change Scholar

The guide’s advice to “keep the focus on learning” is apt for thinking about how to use this guide to create organization change. One of the best ways campuses can encourage deep and lasting change is by creating organizational learning around new learning spaces. The various steps in this guide will lead to such learning including:

  • Organizational learning starts by creating a focus – what do we want to or need to learn more about which is where the institution needs to collect and gather information. Starting with the desired learning outcomes is a focus and direction for learning.

  • Collecting data on learning outcomes and assessing learning spaces are key steps in organizational learning – campuses need to identify data needed to make good decisions that are specific to the campus context

  • Create diverse, thinking teams to interpret data. Data alone will get you nowhere. You need people on campus with the appropriate perspective to think together about the right learning spaces and this should include – architects, facilities managers, faculty (representatives of all faculty both tenure track and non-tenure track), students, institutional researchers, librarians, graduate students and others. Assembling the right thinking team is one of the most important steps toward creating change.

  • Examine the data and information infrastructure. Often we make decisions based on information we have rather than create more robust data systems or gather more information to inform decisions. If initial discussions demonstrate you do not have enough information from the architect, related to facilities challenges, or on student learning, slow down and get better data. 

  • Practice learning together to make change and leaders should put a good team facilitator in place. It is not easy to listen to multiple voices especially when looking at the same information, but coming up with different conclusions. Often there is tension among planning groups and then the loudest voices win out. The team leader will be key in helping the diverse perspective on new planning spaces emerge. 

Change is all about learning and learning happens only when campus leaders set up the right circumstances. This guide provides the steps to create learning. 

Upcoming Events


September 16, 2014
3:30 - 5:00 p.m. EDT


  • Jeanne L. Narum, Principal - Learning Spaces Collaboratory


  • Meredith Bostwick-Lorenzo Eiroa, Associate Director – Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
  • Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, Deputy Director of the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter) and Lecturer at Hasso Plattner Institute of Design - Stanford University

A metaphor for spaces nurturing inventors
From the Spring 2014 LSC/Epicenter/NCIIA Workshop at the

Presenting and critiquing spatial metaphors
From the Spring 2014 ​LSC/Epicenter/NCIIA Workshop at the



October 23-34, 2014
Sponsored by the Discovery Learning Research Center at Purdue University (DLRC featured in the LSC Guide)

Sandbox. Learning. Space.

Speakers will introduce the concept of sandboxing as a metaphor for a space designated for exploring approaches to enhance learning that may not be common in a given institutional setting. Sandboxing provides research opportunities to test how space that accommodates a range of pedagogies can improve learning and guide future development of learning spaces.


  • Shirley Dugdale, Dugdale Strategy LLC

  • Jeanne L. Narum, Learning Spaces Collaboratory

  • Nancy Sturm, The Sextant Group 

Fore more information, visit the Transforming Institutions Conference website.


The Centennial Annual Meeting

January 21-24, 2015
Grand Hyatt Hotel 
 / Washington, DC