Understanding student and staff subjective perceptions of their university physical learning environment and its role in the Higher Education process

Research output: Contribution to conferencePresentation

Abstract

Background
The UK Higher Education (HE) sector is currently experiencing significant pedagogical change to promote ‘student-centred’ learning and teaching practices over traditional ‘didactic’ approaches. Such change has, in part, driven a substantial investment in the UK HE estate, aiming to encourage ‘student-centred’ learning and teaching, enhance the HE experience for students and academics, and facilitate the development of key HE skills and attributes. The Association of Directors of University Estates (2014), for example, identified an investment of over £2.5 billion in developing new university buildings and in large scale refurbishments across the UK, during the 2013-14 academic year. However, despite claims regarding the impact of the HE estate, there is a lack of ‘user-centred’ research regarding the role of the university physical learning environment in the HE process. The current study marks the beginning of a PhD project which has started to address this lack of evidence, by conducting focus groups with students and academic staff at a Scottish multi-campus University which has recently experienced significant campus investment.

Method
Seven focus groups were conducted with a representative sample of students (N=15) and academic staff (N=20) from a range of subject areas and year groups, who study and work at a Scottish multi-campus University which has recently experienced significant campus investment. During the focus groups, participants engaged in a range of activities, such as, using maps of their campus to identify: spaces which they frequently use; spaces and aspects of the campus environment that are important to them; and the best and worst spaces on their campus. Additionally, participants were asked to discuss the spaces which they use at their campus on a typical University day (e.g. classrooms, library spaces, social spaces, and office spaces), with reference to their behaviours and experiences within them.

Analysis
The focus groups identified how the participants utilise the range of spaces available within their campus (including their perceptions of the campus and behaviours within particular areas), the ways in which the physical environment is important to them, and how they perceive their physical environment as a factor within the HE process. Unlike previous HE environment research, a thematic analysis of the data will identify a range of ‘user-informed’ variables which future quantitative research should address. Indicative examples of such variables include perceptions of particular spaces on the campus (e.g. classrooms, social spaces, individual and collaborative study spaces, building exteriors, and outdoor spaces); perceptions of environmental stimulation (e.g. noise, temperature, lighting and layout; educational outcomes (e.g. academic achievement, motivation, confidence, and self-esteem); and work-related outcomes (e.g. productivity, workplace motivation, and job satisfaction).

Conclusions
The study will contribute to the theoretical understanding of interactions between key HE stakeholders and the physical environment in which they learn and work, and guide future investment in HE estates to ensure tangible and cost-effective benefits, which are both sustainable and ‘future-proof’.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2018
EventInternational Association People-Environment Studies (IAPS) Bi-Annual Conference : Transitions to sustainability, lifestyles changes and human wellbeing: cultural, environmental and political challenges - Università degli Studi Roma Tre Dipartimento di Scienze della Formazione Via Principe Amedeo 182-184 00185 Rome, Rome, Italy
Duration: 8 Jul 201813 Jul 2018
Conference number: 25
http://iaps2018.com/

Conference

ConferenceInternational Association People-Environment Studies (IAPS) Bi-Annual Conference
CountryItaly
CityRome
Period8/07/1813/07/18
Internet address

Fingerprint

learning environment
staff
university
education
student
social space
Group
achievement motivation
classroom
lack
quantitative research
study group
job satisfaction
teaching practice
layout
didactics
work environment
academic achievement
learning
self-esteem

Keywords

  • University, Physical Environment, ‘User-Centred’ Research

Cite this

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title = "Understanding student and staff subjective perceptions of their university physical learning environment and its role in the Higher Education process",
abstract = "BackgroundThe UK Higher Education (HE) sector is currently experiencing significant pedagogical change to promote ‘student-centred’ learning and teaching practices over traditional ‘didactic’ approaches. Such change has, in part, driven a substantial investment in the UK HE estate, aiming to encourage ‘student-centred’ learning and teaching, enhance the HE experience for students and academics, and facilitate the development of key HE skills and attributes. The Association of Directors of University Estates (2014), for example, identified an investment of over £2.5 billion in developing new university buildings and in large scale refurbishments across the UK, during the 2013-14 academic year. However, despite claims regarding the impact of the HE estate, there is a lack of ‘user-centred’ research regarding the role of the university physical learning environment in the HE process. The current study marks the beginning of a PhD project which has started to address this lack of evidence, by conducting focus groups with students and academic staff at a Scottish multi-campus University which has recently experienced significant campus investment. MethodSeven focus groups were conducted with a representative sample of students (N=15) and academic staff (N=20) from a range of subject areas and year groups, who study and work at a Scottish multi-campus University which has recently experienced significant campus investment. During the focus groups, participants engaged in a range of activities, such as, using maps of their campus to identify: spaces which they frequently use; spaces and aspects of the campus environment that are important to them; and the best and worst spaces on their campus. Additionally, participants were asked to discuss the spaces which they use at their campus on a typical University day (e.g. classrooms, library spaces, social spaces, and office spaces), with reference to their behaviours and experiences within them.AnalysisThe focus groups identified how the participants utilise the range of spaces available within their campus (including their perceptions of the campus and behaviours within particular areas), the ways in which the physical environment is important to them, and how they perceive their physical environment as a factor within the HE process. Unlike previous HE environment research, a thematic analysis of the data will identify a range of ‘user-informed’ variables which future quantitative research should address. Indicative examples of such variables include perceptions of particular spaces on the campus (e.g. classrooms, social spaces, individual and collaborative study spaces, building exteriors, and outdoor spaces); perceptions of environmental stimulation (e.g. noise, temperature, lighting and layout; educational outcomes (e.g. academic achievement, motivation, confidence, and self-esteem); and work-related outcomes (e.g. productivity, workplace motivation, and job satisfaction).ConclusionsThe study will contribute to the theoretical understanding of interactions between key HE stakeholders and the physical environment in which they learn and work, and guide future investment in HE estates to ensure tangible and cost-effective benefits, which are both sustainable and ‘future-proof’.",
keywords = "University, Physical Environment, ‘User-Centred’ Research",
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Understanding student and staff subjective perceptions of their university physical learning environment and its role in the Higher Education process. / McKay, Daniel; Edgerton, Edward; McKechnie, James; Simpson, Amanda; Mesbahi, Ehsan.

2018. International Association People-Environment Studies (IAPS) Bi-Annual Conference , Rome, Italy.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePresentation

TY - CONF

T1 - Understanding student and staff subjective perceptions of their university physical learning environment and its role in the Higher Education process

AU - McKay, Daniel

AU - Edgerton, Edward

AU - McKechnie, James

AU - Simpson, Amanda

AU - Mesbahi, Ehsan

PY - 2018/7/8

Y1 - 2018/7/8

N2 - BackgroundThe UK Higher Education (HE) sector is currently experiencing significant pedagogical change to promote ‘student-centred’ learning and teaching practices over traditional ‘didactic’ approaches. Such change has, in part, driven a substantial investment in the UK HE estate, aiming to encourage ‘student-centred’ learning and teaching, enhance the HE experience for students and academics, and facilitate the development of key HE skills and attributes. The Association of Directors of University Estates (2014), for example, identified an investment of over £2.5 billion in developing new university buildings and in large scale refurbishments across the UK, during the 2013-14 academic year. However, despite claims regarding the impact of the HE estate, there is a lack of ‘user-centred’ research regarding the role of the university physical learning environment in the HE process. The current study marks the beginning of a PhD project which has started to address this lack of evidence, by conducting focus groups with students and academic staff at a Scottish multi-campus University which has recently experienced significant campus investment. MethodSeven focus groups were conducted with a representative sample of students (N=15) and academic staff (N=20) from a range of subject areas and year groups, who study and work at a Scottish multi-campus University which has recently experienced significant campus investment. During the focus groups, participants engaged in a range of activities, such as, using maps of their campus to identify: spaces which they frequently use; spaces and aspects of the campus environment that are important to them; and the best and worst spaces on their campus. Additionally, participants were asked to discuss the spaces which they use at their campus on a typical University day (e.g. classrooms, library spaces, social spaces, and office spaces), with reference to their behaviours and experiences within them.AnalysisThe focus groups identified how the participants utilise the range of spaces available within their campus (including their perceptions of the campus and behaviours within particular areas), the ways in which the physical environment is important to them, and how they perceive their physical environment as a factor within the HE process. Unlike previous HE environment research, a thematic analysis of the data will identify a range of ‘user-informed’ variables which future quantitative research should address. Indicative examples of such variables include perceptions of particular spaces on the campus (e.g. classrooms, social spaces, individual and collaborative study spaces, building exteriors, and outdoor spaces); perceptions of environmental stimulation (e.g. noise, temperature, lighting and layout; educational outcomes (e.g. academic achievement, motivation, confidence, and self-esteem); and work-related outcomes (e.g. productivity, workplace motivation, and job satisfaction).ConclusionsThe study will contribute to the theoretical understanding of interactions between key HE stakeholders and the physical environment in which they learn and work, and guide future investment in HE estates to ensure tangible and cost-effective benefits, which are both sustainable and ‘future-proof’.

AB - BackgroundThe UK Higher Education (HE) sector is currently experiencing significant pedagogical change to promote ‘student-centred’ learning and teaching practices over traditional ‘didactic’ approaches. Such change has, in part, driven a substantial investment in the UK HE estate, aiming to encourage ‘student-centred’ learning and teaching, enhance the HE experience for students and academics, and facilitate the development of key HE skills and attributes. The Association of Directors of University Estates (2014), for example, identified an investment of over £2.5 billion in developing new university buildings and in large scale refurbishments across the UK, during the 2013-14 academic year. However, despite claims regarding the impact of the HE estate, there is a lack of ‘user-centred’ research regarding the role of the university physical learning environment in the HE process. The current study marks the beginning of a PhD project which has started to address this lack of evidence, by conducting focus groups with students and academic staff at a Scottish multi-campus University which has recently experienced significant campus investment. MethodSeven focus groups were conducted with a representative sample of students (N=15) and academic staff (N=20) from a range of subject areas and year groups, who study and work at a Scottish multi-campus University which has recently experienced significant campus investment. During the focus groups, participants engaged in a range of activities, such as, using maps of their campus to identify: spaces which they frequently use; spaces and aspects of the campus environment that are important to them; and the best and worst spaces on their campus. Additionally, participants were asked to discuss the spaces which they use at their campus on a typical University day (e.g. classrooms, library spaces, social spaces, and office spaces), with reference to their behaviours and experiences within them.AnalysisThe focus groups identified how the participants utilise the range of spaces available within their campus (including their perceptions of the campus and behaviours within particular areas), the ways in which the physical environment is important to them, and how they perceive their physical environment as a factor within the HE process. Unlike previous HE environment research, a thematic analysis of the data will identify a range of ‘user-informed’ variables which future quantitative research should address. Indicative examples of such variables include perceptions of particular spaces on the campus (e.g. classrooms, social spaces, individual and collaborative study spaces, building exteriors, and outdoor spaces); perceptions of environmental stimulation (e.g. noise, temperature, lighting and layout; educational outcomes (e.g. academic achievement, motivation, confidence, and self-esteem); and work-related outcomes (e.g. productivity, workplace motivation, and job satisfaction).ConclusionsThe study will contribute to the theoretical understanding of interactions between key HE stakeholders and the physical environment in which they learn and work, and guide future investment in HE estates to ensure tangible and cost-effective benefits, which are both sustainable and ‘future-proof’.

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