In 2013, the University of Arizona was one of only eight universities awarded a grant from the Association of American Universities for an AAU Undergraduate STEM Education Project. The overarching goal of the project at the University of Arizona was to shift the culture to one that embraces evidence-based, active learning strategies. An important component of the project was to explore the benefits of learning spaces that facilitate collaborative active learning pedagogies.
A 264-student pilot space was built in 4 short months and used for 4 weeks of teaching. The results of the pilot confirmed expectations that faculty and students preferred the space over traditional classrooms. Based on the pilot results, a committee prepared a five-year plan, shown below, to build five new Collaborative Learning Spaces (CLSs) each year.