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PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF LEARNING AND TEACHING SPACES: LESSONS LEARNT FROM GERMAN AND PORTUGUESE HIGHER EDUCATION

T. Leiber 1, V. Carlos 2, S. Bruckmann 3, M.J. Rosa 4

1Evaluation Agency Baden-Wuerttemberg, Mannheim (GERMANY)
2Research Centre on Didactics and Technology in the Education of Trainers & University of Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
3CIPES – Centre for Research in Higher Education Policies & University of Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
4CIPES – Centre for Research in Higher Education Policies & DEGEIT, University of Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
The role and importance of learning and teaching (L&T) spaces in higher education institutions (HEIs) has long marked an under-researched topic (Temple, 2008). Meanwhile, it is widely accepted that L&T space structures, physical as well as virtual and hybrid, through their activated and supported L&T processes have an impact on student and teacher performance and satisfaction (Granito & Santana, 2016). L&T spaces are a ‘third pedagogue’ (Ninnemann, 2018; Talbert & Mor-Avi, 2019) because they affect ingredients of L&T behaviour and learning success (e.g. modes of transformational self-directed learning, the ability to concentrate or receptivity).

Against this backdrop and based on results of an Erasmus+ project (LTSHE, 2021), the paper comparatively analyses the practice and policies on various institutional levels of the design and implementation of L&T spaces in the German and Portuguese HE systems. The main purpose is to provide a comprehensive set of principles of design, implementation and use of L&T spaces that institu-tions can draw on to inform the development of improved and new learning spaces.

These principles are inferred from observed policies and practice in the two countries (LTSHE, 2021) and derived from criteria of theoretical frameworks for assessing L&T spaces (e.g. Imms et al., 2016) and principles that have been suggested in scholarly literature (e.g. Finkelstein et al., 2016). The main selective quality criteria for the principles proposed in this paper are whether they are informed by the functional requirements of pedagogical practice and basic insights from L&T theories (Leiber, 2021) to thus direct the design and implementation of L&T spaces that guarantee L&T quality.

Methodologically, this paper is based on comparative conceptual content analysis of relevant documents (e.g. HE laws; HEI mission statements and structure and development plans), scholarly literature and an understanding of L&T theories.

The analysis of the Portuguese and German HE systems shows that HE politics and HEI policies give very scarce legal requirements, administrative regulations or strategic objectives concerning the design and implementation of L&T spaces. In addition, L&T space activities usually are HEI-specific, temporally limited projects with restricted options for interinstitutional and system-wide comparison and benchlearning. However, results of the LTSHE “National Reports” about the policy and practice of designing L&T spaces in German and Portuguese HE (LTSHE, 2021) can be related with sets of principles available in the literature leading to a comparative-synthetic view that identifies the following principles for action.

The design and implementation of L&T spaces should be:
i) oriented at integrative physical, virtual and hybrid spaces;
ii) enduringly supported and financed;
iii) integrated into HEIs’ strategies;
iv) subjected to quality enhancement;
v) better informed by L&T theories and didactics;
vi) take into account varieties of discipli-nary, inter- and transdisciplinary requirements.

These and other principles will be further detailed and classified in the full paper.