Learning Spaces

Examining relationships between the design of physical and virtual learning spaces and the learning that takes place there

Participants: Dr. Jos Boys, Senior Research Fellow in Learning Spaces.  Hilary Smith, Research Fellow. Dr. Claire Melhuish, Contract researcher


A key theme for the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning through Design (CETLD) has been Learning Spaces.  How much does space 'matter' in how we teach and learn? Could different kinds of (physical and virtual) spaces enhance learning and creativity?  Our research has the following aims:

  • To generate and publish a body of original research work on Learning Spaces
  • To develop conceptual frameworks and rich methodologies for investigating what is distinctive about the social and spatial practices of learning, teaching and research
  • To develop a better understanding of the impacts of wider contexts on the design of learning spaces
  • To explore Learning Spaces both on campus and beyond it
  • To share and disseminate research and practice; and to increase knowledge transfer and exchange across the sector

Spaces for Learning Blog

Acting as a key source of information on Learning Spaces, as an ongoing archive of the project, and as a place to share knowledge and experience.  http://www.spacesforlearning.blogspot.com

Towards Creative Learning Spaces book

Commissioned by Routledge, Dr. Jos Boys is writing a book entitled Towards Creative Learning Spaces; re-thinking the architecture of post-compulsory education to be published at the end of 2010 which challenges some of the ‘conventional wisdom’ about learning spaces. Pre-order this book here.

She has also written a chapter “Creative Differences: Deconstructing the Conceptual Learning Spaces of Higher Education and Museums”, for Cook et al (eds) 2010 Looking to Learn, Learning to See: museums as a resource for design education published by Ashgate.  More details are available here.

Re-shaping Learning? The future of learning spaces in post-compulsory education

Conference and associated book publication. This conference (21-23 July 2010) and edited book collection will bring together some of the best research in Learning Spaces, to offer a critical overview of the current state of the learning spaces debate; so as to inform further research and practice.  Jos Boys will be one of the keynote speakers.  Further Re-shaping Learning conference details available here.

Associated research projects

Researcher Clare Melhuish has undertaken a literature review and a pilot study evaluating the student experience of learning spaces, in collaboration with CETL-C. This explores the CETLD spaces, the Creativity Centre at the University of Brighton and InQbate at the University of Sussex.

Research fellow, Hilary Smith and Jos Boys are undertaking a critical taxonomy of new learning spaces and Hilary is developing selected building and project case studies of new learning spaces aiming to integrate an analysis of educational and social processes with physical and/or virtual design.