Changing Spaces: Preparing Students and Teachers for a New Learning Environment

Web Abstract: 
Physical settings in schools have a complex relationship to teaching and learning practices. Uncomfortable tensions can result when the intentions of learners and teachers conflict with each other or with the affordances of the environment. Yet, change may be difficult to achieve and stressful for those involved. This paper considers a case where there has been minimal involvement of staff or students in the design of a new school, but there is a desire to prepare them for the changed environment. Changes will include an integrated curriculum and an “enquiry approach,” which it is hoped will be facilitated by large, shared spaces in the new premises. We discuss an “experimental week” of enquiry learning that took place in the middle of the 2010-11 school year with half of the Year 8 group (12-13 years old) in an existing large space (a school hall). The alteration to the learning environment included changes to both the use of space and the organization of learning time. We concentrate here on the student experience of learning in this new way, rather than the views of the teachers. An enquiry-based approach was enabled by the more fluid, flexible use of school space and time. Overall, students enjoyed the experimental week, but they understood it to be a limited experience. If these changed practices are to be successful they will need to be accepted as more permanent. The challenge for those managing the change process is to remain mindful of the differing needs of students, and continue to develop a shared understanding among staff and students of what learning is or could be. [Authors' abstract]
Author: 
Pamela Woolner, Jill Clark, Karen Laing, Ulrike Thomas and Lucy Tiplady
Journal: 
Children, Youth, and Environments
Media Type: 
Text
Publication Date: 
03/31/2012
Page Numbers: 
p52-74
Resource List Category: 
References to Journal Articles