Planning Learning Spaces: The Critical First Questions

Planning Learning Spaces: The Critical First Questions

With support from the National Science Foundation, a working group within the LSC has been engaged over the past year to develop a prototype for a major LSC Handbook on Planning 21st Century Spaces for 21st Century Learners. Here is a brief report on progress to date:

  • The working group identified four over-arching questions that drive a planning process: questions about learners, learning experiences, learning spaces, and assessment. These questions were critiqued at the LSC National Colloquium in late 2011. There was agreement that the planning process must begin with questions focusing on the learner, on learning outcomes: on expectations of learning outcomes at the institutional level as well as outcomes relevant to a particular space, cluster of spaces, or facility.
  • A small and diverse set of recent learning spaces projects was identified. Academics and architects involved with those projects were invited to contribute to and comment on the process of developing this prototype.
  • Responses from this pilot group to the question about learners include the following. 

  • Aware of the powerful role they play in their own learning
  • Effective collaborators and participants in team activities
  • Comfortable asking for assistance and accessing expert advice in a timely manner
  • Connected with faculty, support providers and peers during the learning process
  • Digitally literate citizens who communicate about and use technology effectively.

  • Skilled with the use of technology, able to use simulations to develop mathematical models, able to use software and hardware for data collection and analysis
  • Skilled in interpersonal communication, able to explain their reasoning in written and oral forms to peers and to evaluate oral arguments (their own and those of peers) able to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of physics in writing, able to present a well-reasoned argument supported by observations and physical evidence, able to function well in a group and evaluate the functioning of their group
  • Socialized into the community of physics, aware that understanding physics means understanding the underlying concepts and principles; understanding physics as a coherent framework of ideas that can be used to understand many different physical situations; becoming part of a classroom community of learners.

  • Accomplished scholars who are grounded solidly in an understanding and application of fundamental facts, principles and theories in the field of chemistry
  • Learners of the highest intellectual and moral standards who attend to the ethical dimensions inherent in scientific inquiry
  • Inspired leaders in chemistry research, teaching, and/or science policy-making who are fully prepared to make basic and applied discoveries in chemistry and set the nation’s scientific agenda
  • Involved citizens able to make informed judgments about scientific, professional, political, and other issues facing our society, whose lives and work are informed by a concern for the well-being of others.

Building from these clearly articulated learning outcomes, each story will continue with responses to the next three questions. Each case study will be illustrated with photos and followed by an essay on the process of planning and assessing learning space/s.