This paper reports on the approach taken in a current interdisciplinary research project that is investigating the relationship between ‘learning’ and ‘space’. The key research question being explored is, ‘How can middle school (Years 5-9) learning environments be designed and used to enable progressive constructivist pedagogies and improve student engagement in learning?
The study is focussed on the co-evolution of educational practice and the design of learning environments in three case study schools situated in Victoria, Australia. Social research methods have been employed to explore the relationships between ‘pedagogical practices’, ‘physical learning environments’ and ‘student engagement in learning’. New understandings attained through the study are expected to contribute to professional practice – architectural and educational - related to the design and use of middle school buildings.
In a departure from the positivist approach adopted by many researchers when investigated the learning/space nexus, this study has approached the issue from an interpretivist epistemological position. Historically, researchers have often undertaken quantitative studies that link student test scores to the condition of school buildings (Fisher, 2004). In this study a qualitative approach has been adopted so that the impacts of the buildings on the socio-pedagogical cultures of middle schools can be investigated.
This paper is written at the midpoint of a three year doctoral research project conducted as part of an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant entitled Smart Green Schools. The paper outlines the background to the study as well as the project’s objectives, methodologies, analytical frameworks, data and methods, and data analysis techniques. In the data and methods section a brief outline of some of the issues arising from the research are presented.
|Keywords:||Methodology, Interdisciplinary, Learning Environments, Pedagogy, Engagement, Constructivist|
Research Higher Degree Student, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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