Space and consequences: the influence of learning spaces on student development and communication

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University of Alabama Libraries

Learning spaces can provide a site for social change by influencing student development and communication in colleges and universities. During a time when teaching, learning, and technology is changing rapidly, researchers and practitioners are addressing the need for learning spaces that promote student development in a modern university setting. From a social constructionist standpoint, this study sought to explore how the design of learning spaces influences three outcomes of student development and communication: 1) student dialogue and community building, 2) interactive learning, and 3) socialization into future professions. McArthur's (2011) paradigm of user-experience of instructional space was utilized to assess the influence of physical and virtual space on these three outcomes. Qualitative analysis of the learning spaces in a liberal arts undergraduate initiative, which employs the use of roundtable classrooms and minimal technology, was conducted. Collection and analysis of interviews and focus group data from students and faculty in the program, in addition to classroom observations, field notes, photographs, sketches, and historical documents, resulted in the finding that the low-tech roundtable classroom not only employed user-design experience principles, but also empowered students to spark their own dialogue, interactive learning, and socialization. While this study found support for the idea that virtual learning spaces can positively influence student development and communication, findings suggest that in-class use of technology can hinder dialogue and learning. Classroom dialogue followed a consistent pattern of socializing intellectual talk, resulting in a typology of instructor follow-up statements.

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Higher education, Communication, Higher education administration