Design of learning environments: a room affecting what we do and how we feel

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The conversion of traditional classrooms into new innovative learning environments (ILE) has been increasingly investigated and implemented in many schools, largely due to societal and technological developments (French, Imms, & Mahat, 2020). Higher Education Institutions are no exception. The design of learning environments to support the development of technology-enhanced learning, centred on students and pedagogic theory, has also been studied (Laurillard et al., 2013; Zitter, De Bruijn, Simons, & Cate, 2011). These learning spaces are generally technologically rich spaces, with different screens for visualization, and a spatial configuration aiming to promote collaboration (Mei & May, 2018), nevertheless, attempts to incorporate active learning pedagogies in spaces that aren't tuned in to the needs of active learning have yielded suboptimal outcomes and a lot of dissatisfaction for both teachers and students (Talbert & Mor-Avi, 2019). In this paper, we study the relation between built environments with wellbeing in mind and its use in an innovative learning space. Following the work of Dolan et al. (2016) we implement the SALIENT checklist in a prototype classroom at NOVA University. The SALIENT checklist recognizes that behaviour is context-dependent and consists of seven dimensions to be considered in the design of environments with wellbeing in mind: 1) Sound, 2) Air, 3) Light, 4) Image, 5) Ergonomics, 6) Nature and 7) Tint. These seven dimensions can have an impact on the learning process, and we hypothesize that a space considering the SALIENT checklist will allow for better students’ performances and satisfaction. We conducted qualitative research using a design thinking approach (Brown & Wyatt, 2010) to better understand how to implement the SALIENT checklist in the context of education and what alternatives were more adapted to active learning. We promoted two design-thinking workshops involving students and professors to propose design ideas for the learning environment. Through these design-thinking workshops, students and teachers reflected on the implementation of each dimension of SALIENT and discussed its role and possible impact on the integration of new pedagogical strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEDULEARN21 Proceedings
Subtitle of host publication13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
EditorsL. Gómez Chova, A. López Martínez, I. Candel Torres
PublisherIATED Academy
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)978-84-09-31267-2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2021


  • Innovative learning environments
  • Higher education
  • Built environments
  • Design thinking


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