Developing New Approaches To The Evaluation Of Physical Learning Environments: A Return To The Origins Of Post-Occupancy Evaluation In Environmental Psychology

Year: 2015

Author: Cleveland, Benjamin

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This paper calls for new approaches to the evaluation of physical learning environments and suggests future directions for research in the field. Prior research across the primary, secondary and tertiary education sectors has revealed a variety of metrics by which the performance of educational facilities can be measured. However, if physical learning environments are to be considered as spaces that provide a range of affordances for teaching and learning, improved methods are required to evaluate the effectiveness of ‘units of the environment’ as pedagogical settings.
For more than 40 years, the field of post-occupancy evaluation has provided direction regarding how evidence can be gathered about the performance of educational facilities in use, yet such work has mostly overlooked the evaluation of learning spaces for pedagogical effectiveness. Research being conducted as part of the Evaluating 21st Century Learning Environments (E21LE) ARC Linkage project indicates that a return to the origins of post-occupancy evaluation in the field of environmental psychology is required in order to support the development of more rigorous methods of learning environment evaluation – methods that can provide valuable feedback about how effective ‘units of the environment’ are for their intended purpose, supporting teaching and learning.