The users in mind : utilizing Henry Sanoff's methods in investigating the learning environment

Salama, Ashraf M. (2009) The users in mind : utilizing Henry Sanoff's methods in investigating the learning environment. Open House International, 34 (1). pp. 35-44. ISSN 0168-2601

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Abstract

The educational process in schools involves many activities that ultimately aim at testing students' motivation, knowledge assimilation, academic performance, and teachers' productivity. How these activities are accommodated in a responsive environment is a critical issue that deserves special attention especially from users' perspective. This paper analyzes emerging understandings of learning environments. Reactions of teachers and students to classroom and cluster prototypes, among other aspects, against a number of spatial requirements and educational objectives are analyzed and discussed based on two mechanisms. The first is a comparative analysis of reactions of teachers from three elementary schools within Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District. The second part is a case study of a pre-design phase undertaken for redesigning some buildings of North Carolina School of the Arts. The results of this investigation support the assumption on how the school environment has a direct impact on the way in which teaching and learning takes place. A conclusion envisioning the need for going beyond adopting prescriptive measures to address the quality of the learning environment is conceived by highlighting the need to utilize knowledge generated from research findings into school design process, to pursue active roles in sensitizing users about the value of the school environment in reaching the desired academic performance while increasing teachers' productivity.