University of Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN22 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 769-777
ISBN: 978-84-09-42484-9
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2022.0228
Conference name: 14th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2022
Location: Palma, Spain
The role of learning and teaching (L&T) spaces in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), physical as well as virtual and hybrid, is extensively recognized as key support of L&T processes, while also having an impact on student and teacher performance and satisfaction [1]. As such, spaces have been considered as the third pedagogue [2]. However, this topic is also marked as under-researched, lacking empirical studies as well as efforts to conduct evaluations of learning spaces [3].

Within this theoretical framework and based on results of the Erasmus+ project “Learning and Teaching Space in Higher Education”, the paper discusses the status point of the L&T spaces (physical and virtual/hybrid) of a Portuguese public university in their relation to L&T methodologies, through the voice of the academic community. Methodologically, this paper is based on the textual content analysis of the information gathered in a set of individual and focus group interviews, conducted in the university in 2021. Individual interviews were run with three elements of the Rectory, namely 1 Vice-Rector and 2 Pro-Rectors. Five focus group interviews were done, within the academic community: architects, departments’ directors, teachers, students, non-teaching staff, and quality management staff.

The content analysis of the interviews shows, considering existing L&T spaces:
i) a lack of comfort in terms of furniture, heating, acoustics, air quality, etc., sometimes even in more recent buildings;
ii) that most L&T spaces are not suitable for the implementation of active learning methodologies, but can be adapted;
iii) due to lack of resources, there has been small investment to adapt L&T spaces;
iv) digital transition is being implemented in L&T spaces, with investment in hybrid learning conditions in key identified rooms over the campus;
v) a lack of space and very large classes, given the challenge of the university's growth of attending students.

In what concerns future or intended next-generation L&T spaces:
i) flexible furniture, allowing different layouts to accommodate a diversity of pedagogical strategies;
ii) challenges in terms of acoustics, connectivity, and management (security, distribution of teaching service, etc.);
iii) investment in L&T spaces both indoor and outdoor;
iv) ensure ventilation conditions, natural light, thermal comfort;
v) quality Wi-Fi network assurance across campus, indoor and outdoor;
vi) modernization of laboratories;
vii) to include students in designing new solutions for L&T spaces.

About 6 next-generation learning spaces were reported, with different types of genesis and usage models. However, it was focused by the rectory and by departments‘ directors on the importance of surveying the L&T spaces on campus by typologies of use, in order to identify other spaces to adapt to emerging pedagogical challenges, both in terms of physical and digital aspects. These and other conclusions, namely the different positions by each type of academic actor, will be further detailed and discussed in the full paper.

[1] V. J. Granito and M. E. Santana, “Psychology of learning spaces: Impact on teaching and learning,” J. Learn. Spaces, vol. 5, no. 1, 2016.
[2] R. Talbert and A. Mor-Avi, “A space for learning: An analysis of research on active learning spaces,” Heliyon, vol. 5, no. 12, p. e02967, 2019.
[3] P. Temple, “Learning spaces in higher education: An under-researched topic,” London Rev. Educ., vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 229–241, 2008.
Learning and teaching spaces, Hybrid Learning, Learning and teaching methodologies, Higher education institutions.