Thursday, 17 March 2011

Evaluating New Learning Spaces

On Wednesday I attended a meeting chaired by Professor Philippa Patterson and attended by Peter Jamieson and John Peacock to discuss how to evaluate the success or otherwise of new learning spaces that have been designed and implemented at Melbourne University by Peter and John's team
I am sure most would agree this is not a straight forward process. What criteria do you use to judge success?  The cohort ability will change year on year impacting on results etc. You get the picture.

What is important is that this process is undertaken as part of a project and that any funding required should be included in the project budget.

Everything I have read about project processes includes a review element. I am not sure we do this with regard to learning spaces. We may review how the space was designed and built, was it on time and budget etc. but in my experience after the builders have left and the room is in use there is little meaningful evaluation.This  lack of review may lead us to believe the project was a success when in fact we don't really know.

When I applied to the Learning and Teaching Enhanced Fund for this visit one of the conditions is that in my report I include evaluation data on spaces that were developed following earlier LTEF funding. I will have to consider how I achieve this.

How do others address the evaluation question?


  1. What a great question Nigel. I have been developing an education post occupancy evaluation as part of my PhD research, greatly assisted by none other than Peter J. I have found that authentic evaluation requires multiple data collection methods, so that some methods validate others. Observation is key, complimented by interviews and/or focus groups and some form of image capture. Behavioral mapping is also really useful.
    The issue of differing behaviors by different disciplines/age groups etc is very complex, perhaps tackled by undertaking a longitudinal study. I don't think this
    kind of evaluation has been done, certainly not in education spaces.
    I would love to meet up and discuss further with you before you head back. Peter has my details.

  2. Jo
    Thanks for the comment. I will be happy to meet with you and discuss further.
    I will be in touch

  3. Its a complex one. I have done a post occupancy evaluation at our High Holborn site. It was part of my research work but also part of the whole project process.
    I interviewed staff, which was informative but more time consuming than other methodology. I also held focus group interview with students which was very interesting and raised issues about how to get the most out of another time consuming process. However it was valuable and will inform future projects as I think I have learned far more than I expected.


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