Towards aligning pedagogy, space and technology inside a large-scale learning environment

Barry, W. (2011) Towards aligning pedagogy, space and technology inside a large-scale learning environment. In: SRHE Newer Researchers’ Conference 2011: New Communities, Spaces and Places: Inspiring Futures for Higher Education, 6-7 December 2011, Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales.

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This presentation will outline some of the findings from a year long master’s research project. It proposes a conceptual model which illustrates the alignment of pedagogy, space and technology with the learner situated at its heart. Participants will be invited to discuss whether such a model sufficiently explains how the learner influences and is influenced by these three elements.


There has been considerable interest and investment in learning spaces, both nationally and internationally. This stems, partly, from educational institutions seeking to “provide 21st-century learning facilities” (JISC, 2006), but more importantly, a recognition that developing such spaces has a powerful impact on student learning and engagement (Kuh & Hu, 2001).

In 2008/09, Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) invested £35m in building Augustine House (AH), a technology-rich library and student support centre with flexible social and learning spaces. Through JISC funding, two hundred netbooks were made available for students and staff to use within AH. It provided an opportunity to observe how students, working in groups or individually, using mobile devices, occupying a space of their choice, were undertaking various learning activities.


A multi-method design involving five tutors from across four faculties being interviewed; three hundred and twenty-five students answered an online questionnaire; and thirty-five students took part in narrative inquiries. The three data collection methods were triangulated and provided perspectives from both tutors and students on their adoption of the spaces and technologies available in AH; eliciting any opportunities, challenges and issues they experienced as a consequence.

Key findings

The study revealed that both tutors and students experienced ‘troublesome space’, but in very different ways. For tutors, the learning spaces, if not fully understood or appropriately planned for, presented risks and challenges to their teaching practices. For students, it was not always clear what they could or could not do within a particular space.

Furthermore, evidence suggests that influencing students’ attitudes could engage them in using the learning environment more. However, students placed a high premium on ‘silent spaces’ (Beard, 2009) suggesting that policy makers and planners may need to consider the right balance between social and private spaces.


Beard, C. (2009). “Space to Learn? Learning Environments in Higher Education”. Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network: Enhancing Series: Student Centred Learning, July 2009.
Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). (2006). Designing Spaces for Effective Learning: A guide to 21st century learning space design. Bristol: JISC.
Kuh, G.D. & Hu, S. (2001). “The Effects of Student-Faculty Interaction in the 1990s”. The Review of Higher Education, 24(3), pp. 309-332.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Divisions: pre Nov-2014 > Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit
Depositing User: Users 33 not found.
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2011 10:03
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2014 12:47

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00