Do the conditions of a learning space environment correlate to seating choices and learning outcomes of students who use that environment and experience those conditions?
From this general question numerous corollary research questions emerge with may be investigated by various analyses. The variables identified in this study as learning space conditions fall into three categories.
Structural: the shape and size of a room combined with the arrangement of seats and other spatial/temporal features of the lecture venue.
Sensory: light, sound, distance, and angle of vision count prominently in this study, although we are not measuring subjective experience. Rather we are measuring the physical conditions that are speculatively related to learning.
Social: measure where students sit and also who they sit near. This will allow us to test whether social networks emerge or whether seat choices are influenced by social grouping.
In all cases the variables that we have chosen to measure are based on either prior findings or our own speculation that they are related to learning outcome in measurable ways.
The study so conceived forms a research framework designed to produce a significant data-set of environmental characteristics and performance indicators that may support a variety of hypothesis driven analysis strategies. By way of example, but not limited to:
- Do classroom environmental factors correlate to student performance?
- Do students’ seating proximity to the instructor correlate to student performance?
- Does a round room exhibit significant differences for any of these factors compared to traditional rectangle rooms?
- Is seat choice is influenced by prior student performance (e.g. GPA or SAT).
- What motivates students’ seat choices?
- Are initial seat choices persistent over the course of a class or are students mobile throughout the term?
- Do students make seat choices because of the perceived quality of the seat or area of the seat?
- Do social networks form in classrooms and how do they behave?
- Do students make seat choices because of social factors?
- Do the answers to these questions change when presented with an unfamiliar room shape such as a classroom-in-the-round?
- Do action zones (e.g. T-Zone patterns) occur in OSU classrooms?
Many more such corollary research questions follow from the data-set that we are building in this study.