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Learning Space Redesign and the Master Planning

I want to provide an update on the learning space pilot process, and to contextualize it within the master planning process.


The Integrated Strategic Plan calls for both enhancement and expansion of learning spaces at Santa Clara: a significant increase in the number of new classrooms, labs, and other learning spaces on campus through the construction of a new Art and Art History building, a Law facility, a Science and Engineering complex, and other new structures; and a redesign of more than 45 older classrooms across campus to better support teaching and learning.

As part of this process, a diverse palette of representative SCU learning spaces is being identified following broad consultation with the campus community. Examples of learning spaces within the palette include tiered case-study classrooms with continuous counters, flexible classrooms with moveable desks or tables, active learning studios, seminar rooms, tech labs with computers for hands-on learning, and maker space/project suites.

A pilot project has been launched in preparation for the expansion, design, and re-design of learning spaces: three new classrooms were created in 2012 (Varsi 114, Graham 163 and 164), three older classrooms were redesigned in 2013 (O’Connor 204, Engineering 602, Alumni Science 220), and three additional classrooms will be redesigned in summer 2014 (Kenna 109, O’Connor 103 and 209). The pilot classrooms will help us discover what kinds of learning spaces are most effective in supporting the diverse types of teaching and learning that occur at Santa Clara. An assessment of the pilot classrooms will inform the master planning process for the campus.

The pilot classroom designs feature combinations of various flexible workspace elements including easily moveable desks or tables, short throw projectors, team screens, electronic whiteboards, and writeable walls.

Faculty and student feedback on the pilot spaces has been compiled in a preliminary assessment report drafted by Chris Bachen, Director of Assessment. The report, Reflecting on our Experiences with New Learning Spaces, is posted online.

Next steps for the pilot learning spaces will include continued collaboration in the design and effective use of learning spaces; continued assessment and feedback on the pilot learning spaces; and enhancement of partnerships among faculty, Media Services, IT, Registrar, and Facilities to ensure that any problems are addressed quickly.  Next steps with the broader master planning process will include (i) an identification of the appropriate palette of learning spaces for SCU, and (ii) an analysis of how many learning spaces of each type and size will be needed by 2020 to support effective, innovative teaching in the context of the projected increase in enrollment. Faculty input will be crucial as this process continues. I particularly want to thank all those who took part in recent conversations about learning space design with consultant, Shirley Dugdale, during the week of May 19. This included the Faculty Collaborative for Teaching Innovation, members of the Provost’s Advisory Council on Learning Spaces, faculty who participated in learning space design workshops in 2013 and 2014, and faculty who taught in and helped assess the design and use of the pilot classrooms.