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Board 12: Impact of Flexible Classroom Spaces on Instructor Pedagogy and Student Behavior

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

12

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/29895

Download Count

56

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Paper Authors

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Sarah Jane Bork University of Michigan

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Sarah received her B.S. and M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Ohio State University in 2017. She is now pursuing her Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is interested in engineering education research as well as fabrication for biomedical applications.

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Candace Rose Wiwel University of Michigan

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Max William Blackburn University of Michigan

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Max Blackburn is a fourth year undergraduate Electrical Engineering student at the University of Michigan, focusing in Power systems and Energy. He is currently assisting Dr. Cynthia Finelli with research concerning the effects of flexible learning spaces and formative assessment techniques.

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Aaron W. Johnson University of Michigan

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Aaron W. Johnson is a lecturer in aerospace engineering and a postdoctoral research fellow in engineering education research at the University of Michigan. He received his Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2014, after which he served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Tufts University Center for Engineering Education and Outreach. Aaron also obtained a master's degree from MIT in 2010 and a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan in 2008, both in aerospace engineering.

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Cynthia J. Finelli University of Michigan Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-9148-1492

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Dr. Cynthia Finelli is Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Associate Professor of Education, and Director and Graduate Chair for Engineering Education Research Programs at University of Michigan (U-M). Dr. Finelli is a fellow in the American Society of Engineering Education, a Deputy Editor of the Journal for Engineering Education, an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Education, and past chair of the Educational Research and Methods Division of ASEE. She founded the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching in Engineering at U-M in 2003 and served as its Director for 12 years. Prior to joining U-M, Dr. Finelli was the Richard L. Terrell Professor of Excellence in Teaching, founding director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and associate professor of electrical engineering at Kettering University.

Dr. Finelli's current research interests include student resistance to active learning, faculty adoption of evidence-based teaching practices, the use of technology and innovative pedagogies on student learning and success, and the impact of a flexible classroom space on faculty teaching and student learning. She also led a project to develop a taxonomy for the field of engineering education research, and she was part of a team that studied ethical decision-making in engineering students.

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Abstract

There is an overall assumption that “classrooms of the future” with non-traditional layouts and the latest technology will have a positive impact for both students and instructors. Previous research has shown that “studio classrooms,” in which students sit facing each other in small groups rather than in front-facing rows, support active learning. However, fully realizing the benefits of these spaces requires a time- and effort-intensive change in the way a course is taught. We hypothesize that flexible classroom spaces, which have movable tables and chairs that can be easily rearranged into different layouts, are one potential solution to this problem. The open-ended design of flexible classrooms means they can be arranged into front-facing rows or small groups depending on the instructor’s needs during a given activity.

Funded by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Undergraduate Education, we are conducting a study that will follow five instructors as they teach the same course during two consecutive academic years, first in a traditional lecture hall and then, after participating in a faculty learning community focused on the affordances of the room, in a flexible classroom. We will investigate how the instructors’ pedagogy, use of formative assessment, and interaction with students differs between the two classrooms. We will also investigate how the physical classroom space influences the ways students interpret and engage in group learning activities.

Our NSF project has been preceded by a high-level investigation of the different ways in which the instructors of seven different courses did and did not take advantage of the affordances of a flexible classroom. We also conducted a detailed investigation of how the instructor and students in one of these courses—a sophomore-level Introduction to Electronic Circuits course—used the flexible classroom during active learning. All instructors used the classroom in small group layouts, which afforded more interaction between students and between students and the instructor. This increased interaction was prominent in the Circuits course, as the instructor was able to sit down with students during active learning and discuss their problem-solving process. This close interaction then allowed the instructor to rapidly respond to misconceptions of gaps in students’ knowledge.

Currently, in this first year of this NSF project, we are developing research instruments based on our pilot project. We are creating a classroom observation protocol that can be used to categorize the type of formative assessment used in undergraduate engineering courses. This protocol will be constructed from the formative assessment literature and from coded analysis of 50 hours of video from 7 courses being taught in flexible classrooms. We are also designing a survey to measure students’ perception of their instructor, the flexible classroom, and their role in learning activities. Future work involves administering these instruments in five courses to study how flexible classrooms affect instructor pedagogy and student behavior. This poster will present (1) findings from the pilot study, (2) key features of the classroom observation protocol and the survey instrument, and (3) future plans for the implementation of the instruments in this NSF project.

Bork, S. J., & Wiwel, C. R., & Blackburn, M. W., & Johnson, A. W., & Finelli, C. J. (2018, June), Board 12: Impact of Flexible Classroom Spaces on Instructor Pedagogy and Student Behavior Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/29895

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