Asee peer logo

Out-of-Class Impacts of Flexible Classroom Spaces

Download Paper |

Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Student Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Student

Page Count

11

DOI

10.18260/1-2--33149

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/33149

Download Count

129

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Candace Rose Wiwel University of Michigan

visit author page

Candace Wiwel is a third year undergraduate student studying Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering at the University of Michigan.

visit author page

biography

Jessica E. S. Swenson University of Michigan

visit author page

Jessica Swenson is a post doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan. She was awarded her doctorate and masters from Tufts University in mechanical engineering and STEM education respectively. Her current research involves examining different types of homework problems in undergraduate engineering science courses, flexible classroom spaces, active learning, responsive teaching, and elementary school engineering teachers.

visit author page

biography

Magel P. Su University of Michigan Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4898-5024

visit author page

Magel P. Su is a PhD student in the Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science at the California Institute of Technology. He earned a B.S.E in materials science and engineering and a minor in chemistry from the University of Michigan. At Michigan, he was a member of the Ultrafast Laser - Material Interaction Laboratory and the Engineering Honors Program. He also served as an instructor for several courses including Introduction to Engineering, Introduction to Materials and Manufacturing, and Structural and Chemical Characterization of Materials.

visit author page

biography

Max William Blackburn University of Michigan

visit author page

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.

visit author page

biography

Aaron W. Johnson University of Michigan

visit author page

Aaron W. Johnson is a postdoctoral research fellow 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.

visit author page

biography

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

visit author page

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.

visit author page

Download Paper |

Abstract

This student-led research project analyzes the impact that the conversion of a computer lab to a flexible classroom space had on informal use of the space not during class time. Studies have been conducted on the benefits of informal learning settings, but there are few studies on how the physical space itself can support the informal learning process. Research surrounding learning spaces in libraries have emphasized use of collaboration and flexible spaces, but all studies were conducted to inform space design decisions rather than assess the impact of those design decisions. This study investigates the unintended benefits of a new flexible classroom through a post-occupancy space analysis.

A large public research university in the Midwest made the decision to convert the space to a flexible classroom to support active learning and more-experimental pedagogies. Prior to this redesign, student engineering design teams mainly used the room for individual Computer Aided Design work, due to its proximity to the student team project center before renovations. The room consisted of a traditional computer lab design with tightly-packed horizontal rows of computers. The new flexible classroom design includes more open space with tables allowing for group seating and increased interaction. The new layout features affordances that facilitate collaboration, such as reconfigurable furniture, movable whiteboards and monitors around the perimeter of the space. The monitors can be connected to a university engineering computer or a personal laptop. We hope to explore the additional impact of the conversion of the space from a computer lab to a flexible classroom by looking outside of the intended purpose of a classroom. Specifically, we aim to understand 1) How was the room used aside from classes? 2) During out of class usage, how were the classroom affordances used? 3) How has the change from a computer lab to a flexible classroom impacted those who used it before the renovation?

To observe how the room is used, researchers observed the use of the rooms from 9:00 a.m. to midnight during both class instruction and informal use for one full week in early April. During non-class time, researchers recorded the size of groups and the utilization of the room’s affordances, including technology use and furniture configurations. Small group interviews were conducted with members of student engineering design teams, and with the University’s information technology department to supplement the observational study and compare the current usage to how the students used the space before renovations.

Preliminary analysis shows the space no longer affords the same activities it did as a computer lab. The interviews concluded that students use was impacted by the lack of computers. The observations show the usage shifted to majority group work versus the original independent use of the room. Although the affordances of the room were altered, the room still saw large usage from students for all observed hours, every day of the week. Implications of this study can be to give further support for classrooms designed for active learning pedagogies, as they encourage positive activities in and out of class.

Wiwel, C. R., & Swenson, J. E. S., & Su, M. P., & Blackburn, M. W., & Johnson, A. W., & Finelli, C. J. (2019, June), Out-of-Class Impacts of Flexible Classroom Spaces Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33149

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: © 2019 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