Understanding student and staff subjective experiences of their university physical learning environment and its role in the learning and teaching process

Daniel Raymond McKay, Edward Edgerton, James McKechnie, Amanda Simpson, Ehsan Mesbahi

Research output: Contribution to conferencePresentation


Recent debates within the Higher Education (HE) sector have emphasised the need to promote ‘student-centred’ learning and teaching. Linked to this debate is an awareness that ‘traditional’ university learning spaces may not support such an approach. As such, there has been substantial investment in HE estates to support ‘new’ methods of learning and teaching. However, there is insufficient evidence available to evaluate the relationship between the physical environment and learning and teaching in HE. This project addresses this gap.

As part of a wider PhD project, seven focus groups were conducted with students (N=15) and academics (N=20) across three campuses. Participants discussed the spaces that they frequently use on their campus, with reference to their behaviours and experiences within them.
Analysis of the focus group responses reveals the importance that participants place on their physical environment, their views on how this environment influences their learning and teaching, and how participants utilise space within the University estate. The focus groups explored a number of factors including perception of learning spaces (e.g. traditional versus active learning classrooms, social, library, and office spaces) and environmental issues (e.g. noise, ventilation, layout, and crowding). The data allows us to explore the relationship between these factors and educational and work-related outcomes.

This study develops our understanding about the role of the physical environment in the learning and teaching practices of key HE stakeholders. The findings will be considered in terms of their theoretical contribution to the field and their practical implications for HE estate investments.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2018
EventUWS Learning, Teaching & Research Conference 2018: Bridging Boundaries: Connecting Learning, Teaching & Research - UWS Paisley Campus, Paisley, United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Jun 201828 Jun 2018


ConferenceUWS Learning, Teaching & Research Conference 2018
Abbreviated titleUWSLTR
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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