Student centred and research-based design of learning spaces: Blackett transitional space
Number of student partners: 2
Number of staff partners: 2
Length of project: 5 weeks during holiday time.
Weekly time commitment for student: Full-time engagement for the undergraduate student partner, 2 days a week from the postgraduate student partner.
Department of Physics
Lead Staff partner: Luke White
Other staff partner: Craig Walker
Student partners: Luke McCrone, Hunain Nadeem
Project area: Space Design
Background for project
The Blackett building is currently undergoing a sequence major refurbishment. This included the redevelopment of Lecture Theatre 2 (LT2) into an active learning space.
The department identiﬁed a space on level 1 which is desperately needed to be made better use of (especially in light of the aforementioned refurbishment to LT2). Speciﬁcally, this space is the foyer area outside LT2 and the silent study corridor, Blackett 120. Together with the LT2 refurbishment, the combination of spaces will make for areas of learning that can facilitate various styles and contexts of learning.
Students have made their concerns and issues known in recent years with regards to the lack of study space around Blackett and on campus in general. Therefore, this student-led design project seeks to take in all these concerns and address them with a space speciﬁcally designed with its end users in mind: the students. Engaging both research (in study-spaces) expertise with student-user expertise provided an effective combination to ensure that project outputs were both research informed and then further tailored to the specific contexts and demands of the Imperial College physics student.
The student partners were positioned as primary researchers, engaging students in a participative design process. These involved both focus groups and interviews, as well as an online questionnaire. Focus groups and questionnaires were student focused. The interviews were with staff. Overall the research methodology was informed by recent research and thinking around student-led space design (Casanova et al, 2018). A multi-method approach was designed to illicit a better understanding of the diversity of student behaviours (and therefore approaches to space usage) as well as a more in-depth data set of information from which to draw final design decisions.
A key aspect of the project was that the student partners were involved in design meetings with both internal colleagues and external suppliers and designers in order to carry the student-centred approach thorough final decision making and delivery of the final ‘space’ to the students.
Benefits to student learning and further outcomes
It is envisaged that once the space is delivered to students, it will increase the number of study spaces in the department and the range of study space options available to them. Overall students will be able to engage a range of learning approaches and find appropriate spaces in which to pursue those learning experiences.
- Diogo Casanova, Roberto Di Napoli Marie Leĳon(2018) Which space? Whose space? An experience in involving students and teachers in space design, Teaching in Higher Education,23:4,488-503,DOI:10.1080/13562517.2017.1414785