Author: Heather Micheltree

Talking Spaces 7: Intersections

Rearranging the way we learn: Designing a classroom to fit the needs of 21st century schoolkids

A wonderful new article featuring the E21LE research has just been posted on the Melbourne University, Pursuit web page.  Please see the link below to read further.

Link to article

‘What’s working?’ – Symposium video links now available



Session One: New Generation Learning Environment and Evaluation Teaching Practice

Session 1 – Presentations

Video Link

Session 1 – Discussion

Video Link

Session Two: Using Evaluation to Understand Spatial Affordance

Session 2 – Presentations

Video Link

Session 2 – Discussion

Video Link

Session Three: Gaining Evidence on Pedagogy and Space

Session 3 – Presentations

Video Link

Session 3 – Discussion (part 1)

Video Link

Session 3 – Discussion (part 2)

Video Link

Session Four: Gaining Evidence on Pedagogy and Space (2)

Session 4 – Presentations

Video Link

Closing Session

Video Link

Loreto Mandeville Centre Tour

As part of our most recent PhD workshop, the E21LE team attended the A4LE Vic Chapter Tour of the Loreto Mandeville Centre. The Mandeville Centre recently received the AIA Victorian Architecture Award for Educational Architecture. It was wonderful to be able to look around this recently completed facility and hear from the architects and staff about the functioning of the Centre and how the new design as changed teacher practices and enabled informal interactions between staff and students.

Terry Byers – PhD success

We are pleased to announce that earlier this week we received news that Terry Byers passed his PhD examination. Terry is a valued member of our team, and we are pleased to see recognition being given to the enthusiasm, dedication, and rigour that he brings to his work. Terry’s research is a valuable asset to the Learning Environment Evaluation field.
Our congratulations go out to Terry. We are very privileged to have a researcher of his calibre on our team.

BOOK RELEASE: Evaluating Learning Environments – Snapshots of Emerging Issues, Methods and Knowledge

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new book, ‘Evaluating Learning Environments: Snapshots of Emerging Issues, Methods and Knowledge’, edited by Wesley Imms, Benjamin Cleveland, and Kenn Fisher.  This book is now available through Sense publishers, or by contacting the E21LE team.

The recent trend in innovative school design has provided exciting places to both learn and teach. New generation learning environments have encouraged educators to unleash responsive pedagogies previously hindered by traditional classrooms, and has allowed students to engage in a variety of learning experiences well beyond the traditional ‘chalk and talk’ common in many schools. These spaces have made cross-disciplinary instruction, collaborative learning, individualised curriculum, infused technologies, and specialised equipment more accessible than ever before. The quality of occupation of such spaces has also been encouraging. Many learning spaces now resemble places of collegiality, intellectual intrigue and comfort, as opposed to the restrictive and monotonous classrooms many of us experienced in years past.

These successes, however, have generated a very real problem. Do these new generation learning environments actually work – and if so, in what ways? Are they leading to the sorts of improved experiences and learning outcomes for students they promise? This book describes strategies for assessing what is actually working. Drawing on the best thinking from our best minds – doctoral students tackling the challenge of isolating space as a variable within the phenomenon of contemporary schooling – Evaluating Learning Environments draws together thirteen approaches to learning environment evaluation that capture the latest thinking in terms of emerging issues, methods and knowledge.

Terry Byers – PhD Completion Seminar

We are pleased to announce the upcoming PhD completion Seminar for Terry Byers. 

Evaluating the Effects of Different Classroom Spaces on Teaching and Learning

Principal Supervisors: Associate Professor Wesley Imms
Co-supervisor: Elizabeth Hartnell Young

Advisory Chair: Dr Christine Redman


When: Thursday 19 May 2016, 2pm

Where: Q.372 Level 3, Kwong Lee Dow Building (234 Queensberry St)



How do you determine if expensive contemporary classroom and school designs have any impact on student learning?  Over $14B has been spent recently on so-called  ‘innovative learning environments’ where flexible classrooms, ’smart furniture’, and ubiquitous ICT combine to theoretically allow a more collaborative, student-centred learning space.  But do theses spaces actually work?  The consensus is that education has largely failed to effectively isolate ‘space’ as a variable when assessing the impact of learning environments.  This thesis, conducted within the 2014 – 2016  Evaluation of 21st Century Learning Environments ARC Linkage Project (Imms, Kvan, Dinham and Fisher) has produced empirical evidence to advance understanding of the relationship between the physical learning environment and teaching and learning. Its novel approach isolated the impact of different layouts and determined a statistical influence on students and teachers. The evidence suggests that when assessing the pedagogical impact of any learning environment, how it is inhabited is at least as important as its design. A teacher’s environmental competency was identified as a mediator in the pedagogical performance of any space.

What’s working? E21LE symposium

Information about the upcoming seminar, What’s Working? , is now available. Please click the button below to continue.

Continue to What's Working

Call for Abstracts: What’s working?: Informing education theory, design and practice through learning environment evaluation

Click the button below to continue to the abstract submission form. Please read through the submission guidelines before submitting your abstract.

Abstract Submission Form

Now into its third year, the International LEaRN Graduate Research Symposium was established to showcase the best of contemporary graduate research in learning environment evaluation.
Hosted by the Evaluating 21st Century Learning Environments research project (E21LE), in conjunction with the University of Melbourne’s *Learning Environments Applied Research Network (LEaRN), the forum is breaking new ground in conceptualising how new generation learning environments can be evaluated for their effectiveness.  This year, the Symposium explores the theme of ‘What’s working? Informing educational theory, design and practice through learning environment evaluation’.

Current or recently completed RHD students are now invited to submit papers for this event. In June 2016, ‘What’s Working?’, will present those instances where innovative school designs are proving to be effective, and will critique or explore the evaluation strategies that provide translational evidence of that success.  Contributors to this symposium will address the simple question; ‘What is working in learning environment design and occupation, and how does this success inform future best practices?’

Symposium topics
Abstracts are invited from all research higher degree students (Masters or Doctorates) working in this or closely related fields.
Topics may include, but are not limited to:
•    The nature of learning environment evaluation, its approaches and purposes.
•    How spaces are conceptualised and designed to address the needs of future learners;
•    How space can inform pedagogy, and vice versa;
•    How spaces ‘work’ in terms of their technical or physical performance;
•    Evidence-based facility design;
•    Data collection – informing how new learning spaces are occupied and inhabited over the long term;
•    How evaluation informs function, and vice versa;

Accepted papers will address how well considered evaluation extends, beyond the particular school or education site, the learning environments knowledge embedded in topics listed above.

Submission of abstracts
Post graduate researchers are invited to submit abstracts for blind peer review.  Abstracts will be selected based on academic merit, and their capacity to inform learning environment research and evaluation issues. Abstracts should be of no more than 250 words and should be submitted via the abstract submission link attached by the 6th of May, 2016.

Abstract Submission Form

Further information
For further information about the symposium, including contacts, abstract submission and registration details, please visit

Call for Abstracts Flyer

What's Working? Portal

IDEAS EXCHANGE: PhD Workshop 1, 2016

PhD workshop 1-2016-BW

Recently the E21LE team held the first PhD workshop for 2016. The workshops brought together E21LE’s PhD candidates, in conjunction with some of the interstate and international PhD candidates affiliated with LEaRN. It was a very productive day all round, and it was great to have such a collaborative environment and valuable ideas exchange around Learning Environments research.

For the dates of upcoming PhD workshops, please see our events page.