Of Special Note

I. Making the Case: The Return on the Investment in 21st Century Environments for Learning

A. From the Perspective of the Learner

Making the case for determining the return on the investment of institutional resources in physical and virtual environments for learning can be calibrated from several perspectives: focusing on learners, institutional programmatic and pedagogical initiatives, faculty and budgets, and, finally, on the institutional image into the future.

  • What difference will new/repurposed spaces have for the experience of the learner?
  • What do we know now about how our students experience learning?
  • If we are to establish baseline data from which to determine the impact of our planning on learners, what do we need to know as we begin?
  • How can we calibrate the return on investment at the level of the individual student, on our graduates?
  • What will be our measures of success for what our students have become, and are recognized for accomplishing in the world?
  • How do we measure the return on an investment in spaces we have intentionally designed as a bridge into the future?


Spotlighting National Reports

How People Learn Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition
National Research Council

There are many reasons to be curious about the way people learn, and the past several decades have seen an explosion of research that has important implications for individual learning, schooling, workforce training, and policy.

In 2000, How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition was published and its influence has been wide and deep. The report summarized insights on the nature of learning in school-aged children; described principles for the design of effective learning environments; and provided examples of how that could be implemented in the classroom.

Since then, researchers have continued to investigate the nature of learning and have generated new findings related to the neurological processes involved in learning, individual and cultural variability related to learning, and educational technologies. In addition to expanding scientific understanding of the mechanisms of learning and how the brain adapts throughout the lifespan, there have been important discoveries about influences on learning, particularly sociocultural factors and the structure of learning environments.

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Spotlighting National Reports

How People Learn II: Learners, Contexts, and Cultures: Learners, Contexts, and Cultures
National Academy of Sciences

How People Learn II: Learners, Contexts, and Cultures provides a much-needed update incorporating insights gained from this research over the past decade. The book expands on the foundation laid out in the 2000 report and takes an in-depth look at the constellation of influences that affect individual learning. How People Learn II will become an indispensable resource to understand learning throughout the lifespan for educators of students and adults.

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Spotlighting National Reports

The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century
National Academy of Engineering

What attributes will the engineer of 2020 have?

Given the uncertain and changing character of the world in which 2020 engineers will work, engineers will need something that cannot be described in a single word. It involves dynamism, agility, resilience, and flexibility. Not only will technology change quickly, the social-political-economic world in which engineers work will change continuously. In this context it will not be this or that particular knowledge that engineers will need but rather the ability to learn new things quickly and the ability to apply knowledge to new problems and new contexts.

Encompassed in this is the imperative for engineers to be lifelong learners. They will need this not only because technology will change quickly, but also because the career trajectories of engineers will take on many more directions—directions that include different parts of the world and different types of challenges and that engage different types of peoples and objectives….

What attributes will the engineer of 2000 have? He or she will aspire to have the ingenuity of Lillian Gilbreth, the problem-solving capabilities of Gordon Moore, the scientific insight of Albert Einstein, the creativity of Pablo Picasso, the determination of the Wright brothers, the leadership abilities of Bill Gates, the conscience of Eleanor Roosevelt, the vision of Martin Luther King, and the curiosity and wonder of our grandchildren.

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A link to what we know about planning learning spaces and what we need to know

Learning Spaces Collaboratory

The LSC is a community focusing on the future of planning learning spaces.



AAC&U, An LSC Collaborating Partner

Cited at the LSC 2019 Colloquium: We are thinking of spaces as bigger than just a single campus, and about going beyond active learning to think about experimental learning. Thus we thought it important to give attention to globalization and experimental education when thinking if and how our spaces serve such approaches to learning.

From an LSC Webinar: Practical Strategies & Considerations – C. Edward Watson

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The Principle of Choice

“How can the principle of choice be leveraged into planning and designing high-performance settings for learning?

This is the question we ended with; we did not begin with it. We started with a lot of discussion about students, about the experiences of students as learners, and about the potential of empowering the principle of ‘choice’ for students.

The idea of the principle of choice is when the individual student has a role in making choices about their settings for learning. Having this choice makes the student feel big in comparison to the institution as more choices are available and settings become less prescriptive. This phenomenon relates to the idea of building community, of creating a naturalness of access, of spaces that are not intimidating but rather spaces that signal to students that they can make choices, of spaces in which students have the option to form communities from within and not be dictated to from without.”

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Excerpt on Students from Transcript Synthesis: Learning Spaces Roundtables – Why Spaces Matter

What questions should be asked about students, about learners?

These questions, from the summary report of questions articulated in the LSC Roundtables (2016 – 2019), are prompts for thinking about spaces from the perspective of the student?

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Journal of Learning Spaces

Focus and Scope

A peer-reviewed, open-access journal published biannually, The Journal of Learning Spaces provides a scholarly, multidisciplinary forum for research articles, case studies, book reviews, and position pieces related to all aspects of learning space design, operation, pedagogy, and assessment in higher education.

We define learning as the process of acquiring knowledge, skill, or understanding as a result of study, experience, or teaching.

Learning spaces are designed to support, facilitate, stimulate, or enhance learning and teaching. Learning spaces encompass formal, informal, and virtual environments:

  • formal: lecture halls, laboratories, traditional classrooms
  • informal: learning commons, multimedia sandbox, residential study areas, huddle rooms
  • virtual: learning management systems, social media websites, online virtual environments

We invite submissions of practical and theoretical works from practitioners and academics across a wide range of subject disciplines and organizational backgrounds, including Architecture, Interior and Product Design, Education, Information and Library Science, Instructional Technology, Sociology, and Student and Residential Life. Submissions should focus primarily on learning spaces and their impact on or relationship to teaching and learning.

Journal of Learning Spaces is an Open Access journal which means that all content is freely available without charge to the user or his/her institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author. This is in accordance with the BOAI definition of Open Access.


From the Field Archive