Engaging Spaces: An Investigation into Middle School Educational Opportunities Provided by Innovative and Sustainable Built Environments

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For many years pedagogical reform agendas have advocated the adoption of learner-centred education in the middle years of schooling (Years 5-9). Such agendas often promote transformation of the ‘learning environment’, a term which is regularly used to refer to the conceptual, or psychological, environment rather than to the physical learning environment, or space.

Given the rapid development of information and communication technologies (ICT) and growing concern for the environment, our views on what constitutes important and appropriate schooling for today’s students are being challenged. In turn, our perspective on what constitutes world class schooling facilities is also being challenged. Of prime importance is the need to find ways of developing teachers’ spatial awareness.

At the mid point of a three year doctoral research project, conducted as part of an Australian Research Council grant entitled ‘Smart Green Schools’, this paper outlines the research objectives, research framework, preliminary fieldwork undertaken, and the conceptual work conducted prior to and during the major field-based data collection phase of the study. It also describes the desirable features of innovative physical learning environments that we believe will better support middle school student engagement and learning in the 21st Century.


Keywords: Learning Environments, School Buildings, School Infrastructure, Learner-Centred Pedagogies, Engagement
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Engaging Spaces


Ben Cleveland

Research Higher Degree Student, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, The University of Melbourne
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Ben Cleveland is currently enrolled as a research student at The University of Melbourne, where he is pursuing his PhD within the Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning. Ben’s background is in education and science. He is an experienced primary and secondary school educator, having taught students in Year's Prep to 12. Ben’s research is focussed on the design of learning environments which can support contemporary educational philosophies and pedagogies. He has a particular interest in interventions that can support processes of educational change.

Ref: L09P0324