Does the space make a difference? The Churchie Experience
14 Jul 2016
Terry Byers, Churchie’s Director of Innovation in Learning, shares the empirical evidence from a five-year longitudinal investigation into the impact of space upon students and teachers.
Together the Anglican Church Grammar School (Churchie) and the University of Melbourne engaged in a longitudinal research study that evaluated the pedagogical impact of different learning environments on students and teachers. The partnership has investigated the role of the physical learning space on the utilisation of digital technologies, teaching practice, and student engagement and educational outcomes. The evidence from which has informed Churchie’s built environment through the Hayward Midson Creative Precinct and its Centre for Learning and Innovation.
At the same time, key learnings have shaped the wider teaching and learning landscape at the school and developed the real-time ‘Linking Pedagogy, Technology, and Space’ observational metric that provides instantaneous visual feedback to teachers through teaching rounds and individual classroom observations. This partnership expanded from a humble single classroom retrofit in 2010 into significant research linking the School to the wider academic field through its leading role in two consecutive Australian Research Council Linkage Grants: ‘Evaluating 21st Century Learning Environments’ and ‘Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change’.
The magazine ‘Does the Space Make a Difference’ summarises the empirical evidence derived from this 5-year longitudinal investigation. The evidence from this novel undertaking suggests that when considering the impact of the physical learning environment on learning, how it is inhabited, is at least as important as its design. Across the four studies, it is clear that the environmental competency of the teacher is a clear predicator on any spatial design to facilitate its intended pedagogical function.