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Engaging Spaces For First Year Engineering: A Tale Of Two Classrooms

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Potpourri of First-Year Issues

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.470.1 - 15.470.20



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Paper Authors


S. Scott Moor Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne

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Scott Moor is an Assistant Professor of Engineering and Coordinator of First-Year Engineering at Indiana University Purdue University† Fort Wayne. He received a B.S. and M.S. in Chemical Engineering from M.I.T. After over a decade in industry he returned to academia at the University of California at Berkeley where he received a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering and an
M.A. in Statistics. He is a registered Professional Chemical Engineer in California. His research interests include engineering education with an emphasis on developing and testing educational materials and learning spaces that stimulate serious play.
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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Engaging Spaces for First-year Engineering: A Tale of Two Classrooms


Engaging students in learning through the use of active and cooperative approaches has been recognized as an effective way to improve their educational experience. These approaches are particularly important in the first year where student engagement is an important factor in students success and retention. Engineering education has used these approaches in laboratories, problem sets and projects outside the classroom. The need is to use them more inside the classroom. In spite of this recognition and many faculty who do use these approaches in class, most university learning spaces are designed to be optimized for straight lecture. Active and cooperative processes can be brought into any space but why not design the space with them in mind? Learning spaces of a different design send a message to both faculty and students that a different approach to learning is expected.

Two classrooms were redesigned to easily accommodate active and cooperative approaches in first-year classes. The first room was a computer classroom. It was previously arranged in a traditional configuration where each student had a computer arranged in rows facing the front of the classroom. This space was rearranged to a workshop configuration, where the rows were turned perpendicular to the front. This allows for easier interaction between students and faculty and allows the faculty to easily scan the majority of student computer screens.

A second classroom received a more extensive renovation. It was adapted to accommodate students working in groups on a wide range of activities including discussion, computer work, laboratories, and lecture. This multimodal classroom space is designed around four service clusters that each includes two computers, electrical power, air and water supplies. Each cluster accommodates six students that can be easily broken into groups of two, three or six students. These are both modest sized spaces with capacities of 24 and 28 respectively. However, the space concepts used can easily be applied to larger classrooms.

These spaces were assessed using a behavioral instrument (the Student Classroom Engagement Questionnaire), student comparisons to other facilities, and faculty observations. Active and cooperative learning approaches can be carried out in any learning space. However, learning spaces can be designed to facilitate and encourage these activities. Students report greater interaction with each other and with faculty in these specially designed spaces relative to other learning spaces they use. The Multimodal Classroom allowed the implementation of a new project in one course that increased student time on group tasks in the classroom and significant use of the room outside of class.


Many studies have recognized the benefits of using alternative approaches to lecturing in presenting undergraduate material. Students can be more engaged in the material through active,

Moor, S. S. (2010, June), Engaging Spaces For First Year Engineering: A Tale Of Two Classrooms Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16426

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