June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.719.1 - 22.719.18
First year engineering learning space – enhancing student experienceIn 2008 a common first year of study was introduced for all engineering programs atInstitution Name. To help commencing students transition smoothly into university life aspace was created on campus for them to study, do group work, and develop peer networks. Itwas conceived as a space that would enhance students’ social and learning engagement bygiving them a sense of community and belonging. The space became operational in 2009 andis called the “Experience 1 Studio”. This space is open plan with a flexible layout. Apartfrom individual or group study and project work students use the space in a variety of ways,for example, to catch-up with friends, eat, and relax. This paper will provide details of howstudents use the space and its influence on students’ learning and social adjustment intouniversity life.A mixed method evaluation of the flexibility, functionality and aesthetics of the Experience 1Studio was conducted during the first year of its use. This evaluation showed that theflexibility affordances (e.g. moving walls, tables and chairs) were regularly utilised bystudents and assisted their learning. Students used the space to collaborate on their learningtasks (e.g. assignments, reports, presentations). The space further helped students formfriendships during their common first year of study culminating in the formation of a new‘amalgamated’ student social club (where previously separate clubs existed for eachengineering group).First year students can be hesitant to seek help from teaching staff, and rarely go to staffoffices even during designated consultation times. Instead, help desks are provided in theExperience 1 Studio for students to meet with staff and ask questions in a more relaxedenvironment. These help desks have proven to be very successful with students who mightnot normally seek help feeling more comfortable to approach staff for assistance. The helpdesk is managed by the course coordinator and held in lieu of consultation times based in theiroffice. This resulted in an increased number of students seeking timely help with coursecontent, assessment tasks and assistance with managing difficult group work dynamics. Ateam of senior students are also available at regular times in the Experience 1 Studio toprovide help and mentoring to the first year students.The Experience 1 Studio is used to host student project exhibitions and design and buildcompetitions between all first year students. Such activities would normally be held intutorial classes, but the flexible layout of this space provides an excellent location to holdsuch events for a large cohort of students. Local high schools, university staff and industryrepresentatives are also invited to view the students work.Sections of the space were highly utilised (open group areas and lock down rooms) whileother areas less so (red relaxation area and outdoor balcony). Inappropriate furniture wasidentified as a reason for this usage pattern. Student concerns included difficulties accessingthe space out of business hours and faulty facilities. Computer access has been problematic,with some students monopolising computers for game-playing. Most concerns raised bystudents have been addressed (e.g. more appropriate furniture provided, game playing nowbanned to free up computers when there are students waiting for a computer for legitimatestudy purpose).This paper will describe the space, explore how the students use it and how it is used tosupport learning, with general recommendations about implementing informal learning spacesproposed.
Quinn, D., & Smith, E. J., & Aziz, S. M. (2011, June), First-Year Engineering Learning Space: Enhancing the Student Experience Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18000
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2011 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015