Learning Environments Research

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 1–28 | Cite as

The evaluation of physical learning environments: a critical review of the literature

  • Benjamin ClevelandEmail author
  • Kenn Fisher
Original Paper


This article critically reviews the methodologies and methods that have been used for the evaluation of physical learning environments. To contextualize discussion about the evaluation of learning spaces, we initially chart the development of post-occupancy evaluation (POE) for non-domestic buildings. We then discuss the recent evolution of POE into the broader evaluative framework of building performance evaluation. Subsequently, a selection of approaches used to evaluate higher education and school learning environments are compared and critically analyzed in view of contemporary approaches to teaching and learning. Gaps in these evaluative approaches are identified and an argument is put forward for the evaluation of physical learning environments from a more rigorous pedagogical perspective.


Contemporary education Evaluation Methodologies Methods Pedagogies Physical learning environment Post-occupancy evaluation 



We would like to thank Professor Tom Kvan, Dean of Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at The University of Melbourne and Director of the Learning Environments Applied Research Network (LEaRN) for commissioning this literature review. In addition, we would like to thank LEaRN partners Catholic Education Office Melbourne and Karolinska Institute, for their support. We are indebted to Associate Professor Clare Newton and LEaRN Executive Officer Alan Gilmour and for their editorial advice and general support during the writing of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Architecture, Building and PlanningThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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