Advertisement

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

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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

Notes

Acknowledgments

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.

References

  1. Aldridge, J., Fraser, B., Bell, L., & Dorman, J. (2012). Using a new learning environment questionnaire for reflection in teacher action research. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 23, 259–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beare, H. (2000). Creating the future school. London: Routledge Falmer.Google Scholar
  3. Buckley, J., Schneider, M., & Shang, Y. (2005). Fix it and they might stay: School facility quality and teacher retention in Washington D.C. Teachers College Record, 107, 1107–1123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. CABE. (2005). Picturing school design. A visual guide to secondary school buildings and their surroundings using the Design Quality Indicator for Schools. London: Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.Google Scholar
  5. CABE. (2006). Assessing secondary school quality: Research report. London: Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.Google Scholar
  6. CDE. (1978). Facilities performance profile: An instrument to evaluate school facilities. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education.Google Scholar
  7. CERD. (2010). Learning landscapes in higher education. Lincoln: Centre for Educational Research and Development, University of Lincoln.Google Scholar
  8. CIC. (2011, September). Design quality indicators for schools. London: Construction Industry Council. http://www.dqi.org.uk/website/dqiforschools/default.aspa. Accessed 12/7/11.
  9. Clarke, H. (2001, September). Building education: The role of the physical environment in enhancing teaching and learning. Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association annual conference, University of Leeds.Google Scholar
  10. Cleveland, B. (2009). Engaging spaces: An investigation into middle school educational opportunities provided by innovative built environments: A new approach to understanding the relationship between learning and space. The International Journal of Learning, 16, 385–397.Google Scholar
  11. Cleveland, B. (2011). Engaging spaces: Innovative learning environments, pedagogies and student engagement in the middle years of school. Unpublished PhD thesis, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne.Google Scholar
  12. Cohen, R., Standeven, M., Bordass, W., & Leaman, A. (2001). Assessing building performance in use 1: the Probe process. Building Research & Information, 29(2), 85–102.Google Scholar
  13. Comber, C., & Wall, D. (2001). The classroom environment: A framework for learning. In C. Paechter, R. Edwards, R. Harrison, & T. Twining (Eds.), Learning, space and identity (pp. 87–101). London: Paul Chapman Publishing.Google Scholar
  14. Cooper, I. (2001). Post-occupancy evaluation—Where are you? Building Research & Information, 29, 158–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dewey, J. (1966). Experience and education. New York: Collier Books.Google Scholar
  16. Dewey, J. (1971). The child and the curriculum. The school and society (11th ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  17. Dudek, M. (2008). Schools and kindergartens—A design manual. Berlin: Birhauser.Google Scholar
  18. Edwards, R., & Clarke, J. (2002). Flexible learning, spatiality and identity. Studies in Continuing Education, 24, 153–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Eigenbrode, S. D., O’Rourke, M., Wulfhorst, J. D., Althoff, D. M., Goldberg, C. S., Merrill, K., et al. (2007). Employing philosophical dialogue in collaborative science. BioScience, 57, 55–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fisher, K. (2002). Schools as ‘prisons of learning’ or, as a ‘pedagogy of architectural encounters’: A manifesto for a critical psychological spatiality of learning. Unpublished PhD thesis, Flinders University of South Australia, Adelaide.Google Scholar
  21. Fisher, K. (2004). Revoicing classrooms: A spatial manifesto. Forum, 46(1), 36–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fisher, K. (2005). Linking pedagogy and space: Planning principles for Victorian schools based on the principles of teaching and learning. www.eduweb.vic.gov.au/edulibrary/public/assetman/bf/Linking_Pedagogy_and_Space.pdf. Accessed 25/8/11.
  23. Flyvbjerg, B. (1998). Habermas and Foucault: Thinkers for civil society? The British Journal of Sociology, 49, 210–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. FNI. (2011). Educational Facilities Effectiveness Instrument. Lutz, FL: Fielding Nair International. http://goodschooldesign.com/Default.aspx. Accessed 6/6/11.
  25. Fraser, B. J., & Walberg, H. J. (Eds.). (1991). Educational environments: Evaluation, antecedents, and consequences. Oxford: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  26. Friere, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder.Google Scholar
  27. Hadjri, K., & Crosier, C. (2008). Post-occupancy evaluation: Purpose, benefits and barriers. Facilities, 27(1/2), 21–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hartnell-Young, E. (2006). Teachers’ roles and professional learning in communities of practice supported by technology in schools. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 14, 461–480.Google Scholar
  29. HEFCE. (2006). Guide to post occupancy evaluation. Bristol: Higher Education Funding Council for England.Google Scholar
  30. Heppell, S., Chapman, C., Millwood, R., Constable, M., & Furness, J. (2004). Building learning futures. Building futures. www.buildingfutures.org.uk. Accessed 4/8/08.
  31. Higgins, S., Hall, E., Wall, K., Wooler, P., & McCaughey, C. (2005). The impact of school environments: A literature review. London: The Design Council. www.design-council.org.uk. Accessed 5/4/10.
  32. Hirst, P. (2005). Foucault and architecture. In P. Hirst (Ed.), Space and power: Politics, war and architecture (pp. 155–178). Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  33. Hunley, S., & Schaller, M. (2006). Assessing learning spaces. In D. Oblinger (Ed.), Learning spaces (pp. 1–11). Washington, DC: Educause.Google Scholar
  34. Jamieson, P., Dane, J., & Lippman, P. C. (2005). Moving beyond the classroom: Accommodating the changing pedagogy of higher education. Paper presented at the Forum of the Australian Association for Institutional Research. Retrieved from http://www.aair.org.au/pages/forum-2005. Accessed 11/8/11.
  35. JISC. (2006). Designing spaces for effective learning: A guide to 21st century learning space design. Joint Information Systems Committee Development Group. www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/publications/learningspaces.pdf. Accessed 31/5/11.
  36. Joseph, J. (2003). Social theory. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Lackney, J. A. (1999). Assessing school facilities for learning/Assessing the impact of the physical environment on the educational process. Paper presented at the Urban Educational Facilities for the 21st Century: CEFPI North East Chapter First Annual Conference, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, NJ.Google Scholar
  38. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Leaman, A., Stevenson, F., & Bordass, B. (2010). Building evaluation: Practice and principles. Building Research & Information, 38, 564–577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lee, N., & Tan, S. (2011). A comprehensive learning space evaluation model. Strawberry Hills, NSW: Australian Teaching and Learning Council.Google Scholar
  41. Lefebvre, H. (1991). The production of space. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  42. Lippman, P. C. (2007). Developing a theoretical approach for the design of learning environments. Paper presented at the Connected: International Conference of Design Education, University of New South Wales, Australia.Google Scholar
  43. Massey, D. (1999). Power geometrics and the politics of space-time: Hetter Lecture. Heidelberg: University of Heidelberg.Google Scholar
  44. Massey, D. (2005). For space. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  45. McGregor, J. (2004a). Editorial. Forum, 46(1), 2–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. McGregor, J. (2004b). Spatiality and the place of the material in schools. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 12, 347–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. McGregor, J. (2004c). Space, power and the classroom. Forum, 46(1), 13–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. McLaren, P. (2007). Life in schools: An introduction to critical pedagogy in the foundations of education. London: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  49. Monahan, T. (2000). Built pedagogies and technology practices: Designing for participatory learning. Paper presented at the Participatory Design Conference, Palo Alto, CA.Google Scholar
  50. Monahan, T. (2002). Flexible space and built pedagogy: Emerging IT embodiments. Inventio, 4(1), 1–19.Google Scholar
  51. Monahan, T. (2005). Globalization, technological change, and public education. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  52. Moos, R. H. (1979). Evaluating educational environments. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.Google Scholar
  53. Moos, R. H. (1987). Person-environment congruence in work, school, and health care settings. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 31, 231–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Newmann, F. (1992). Higher-order thinking and prospects for classroom thoughtfulness. In F. Newmann (Ed.), Student engagement and achievement in American secondary schools (pp. 62–91). New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  55. Newton, C., & Fisher, K. (2009). Take 8, Learning spaces: The transformation of educational environments for the 21st Century. Manuka, ACT: Australian Institute of Architects.Google Scholar
  56. OECD. (2006). Design quality indicator for schools in the United Kingdom. PEB Exchange, 8, 1–3.Google Scholar
  57. OECD. (2009a). OECD Centre for Effective Learning Environments (CELE, formerly PEB). International pilot study on the evaluation of quality in educational spaces (EQES), User manual. Final version. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  58. OECD. (2009b). Evaluating quality in educational spaces: OECD/CELE pilot project. CELE Exchange, 9, 1–6.Google Scholar
  59. Ornstien, S. W., Moreira, N. S., Ono, R., Franca, A. J. G. L., & Nogueira, R. A. M. F. (2009). Improving the quality of school facilities through building performance assessment: Educational reform and school building quality in Sao Pauol, Brazil. Journal of Educational Administration, 47, 350–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Pearshouse, I., Bligh, B., Brown, E., Lewthwaite, S., Graber, R., Hartnell-Young, E., et al. (2009). A study of effective models and practices for technology supported physical learning spaces (JELS). Nottingham: JISC.Google Scholar
  61. Powell, D. (2008). Evaluation and the pedagogy-space-technology framework. In D. Radcliffe, W. Wilson, D. Powell, & B. Tibbetts (Eds.), Learning spaces in higher education. Positive outcomes by design: Proceedings of the next generation learning spaces 2008 colloquium. St Lucia, QLD: The University of Queensland.Google Scholar
  62. Preiser, W. F. E. (1995). Post-occupancy evaluation: How to make buildings work better. Facilities, 13(11), 19–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Preiser, W. (2001). The evolution of post-occupancy evaluation: Toward building performance and universal design evaluation. In J. Vischer (Ed.), Post-occupancy evaluation: A multifaceted tool for building improvement, learning from our buildings: A state-of-the-practice summary of post-occupancy evaluation. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  64. Preiser, W. F. E. (2002). Toward universal design evaluation. Paper presented at the 17th conference international association for people-environment studies; culture, quality of life and globalization: Problems and challenges for the new millennium, Corunna, Spain.Google Scholar
  65. Preiser, W. F. E., & Nasar, J. L. (2008). Assessing building performance: Its evolution from post-occupancy evaluation. International Journal of Architectural Research, 2(1), 84–99.Google Scholar
  66. Preiser, W. F. E., & Vischer, J. (2005). The evolution of building performance evaluation: An introduction. In W. Preiser & J. Vischer (Eds.), Assessing building performance (pp. 3–14). Oxford: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann.Google Scholar
  67. Radcliffe, D. (2008). A pedagogy-space-technology (PST) framework for designing and evaluating learning places. In D. Radcliffe, W. Wilson, D. Powell, & B. Tibbetts (Eds.), Learning spaces in higher education: Positive outcomes by design. St Lucia, QLD: The University of Queensland.Google Scholar
  68. Radcliffe, D., Wilson, W., Powell, D., & Tibbetts, B. (Eds.). (2008). Learning spaces in higher education. Positive outcomes by design: Proceedings of the next generation learning spaces 2008 colloquium. St Lucia, QLD: The University of Queensland.Google Scholar
  69. Roberts, L. W. (2008). Measuring school facility conditions: An illustration of the importance of purpose. Journal of Educational Administration, 47, 368–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Sanoff, H. (2001). School building assessment methods. Washington, DC: National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities.Google Scholar
  71. SFC. (2006). Spaces for learning: A review of learning spaces in further and higher education. Edinburgh: Scottish Funding Council.Google Scholar
  72. Soja, E. W. (1989). Postmodern geographies: The reassertion of space in critical social theory. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  73. Stevenson, K. (2007). Educational trends shaping school planning and design: 2007. Washington, DC: National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities.Google Scholar
  74. Tanner, C. K., & Lackney, J. A. (2006). Educational facilities planning. Boston: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  75. Taylor, A. (2009). Linking architecture and education: Sustainable design for learning environments. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.Google Scholar
  76. Temple, P. (2007). Learning spaces for the 21st century: A review of the literature. London: London Centre for Higher Education Studies, Institute of Education, University of London.Google Scholar
  77. Temple, P. (2008). Learning spaces in higher education: An under-researched topic. London Review of Education, 6, 229–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Turpin-Brooks, S., & Viccars, G. (2006). The development of robust methods of post occupancy evaluation. Facilities, 24(5/6), 177–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Upitis, R. (2010). Raising a school: Foundations for school architecture. South Frontenac, ON: Wintergreen Studios Press.Google Scholar
  80. Vischer, J. (2001). Post-occupancy evaluation: A multifaceted tool for building improvement, learning from our buildings: A state-of-the-practice summary of post-occupancy evaluation. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  81. Walker, S., & Fraser, B. (2005). Development and validation of an instrument for assessing distance education learning environments in higher education: The distance education learning environments survey (DELES). Learning Environments Research, 8, 289–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Wall, K., Dockrell, J., & Peacey, N. (2008). Primary schools: The built environment (Primary Review Research Survey 6/1). Cambridge: University of Cambridge Faculty of Education.Google Scholar
  83. Weinstein, C. S. (1979). The physical environment of the school: A review of the research. Review of Educational Research, 49, 577–610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Whyte, J., & Gann, D. M. (2001). Closing the loop between design and use: Post-occupancy evaluation. Building Research & Information, 29, 460–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Zeisel, J. (2006). Inquiry by design: Environment/behavior/neuroscience in architecture, interiors, landscape, and planning. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  86. Zhang, Y., & Barrett, P. (2010). Findings from a post-occupancy evaluation in the UK primary schools sector. Facilities, 28(13/14), 641–656.Google Scholar
  87. Zimmerman, A., & Martin, M. (2001). Post-occupancy evaluation: Benefits and barriers. Building Research & Information, 29, 168–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Zimring, C. M., & Reizenstein, J. E. (1980). Post-occupancy evaluation: An overview. Environment and Behavior, 12, 429–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations