Wednesday, 2 May 2012

"We always come here" : investigating the social in social learning

Chris Powis


This paper investigates student choices around the 'Third Space' for learning; that which is not either a teaching space or a private space. In mapping the use of such spaces around the University of Northampton's campuses and through the use of semi-structured interviews with students as they use the spaces it constructs a model to help understand why students choose a particular space to work in and influence decisions in the deliberate creation of such spaces in future.

The research shows four, often overlapping, influences on student choice of space; resources, environment, social and emotional. That resource rich spaces that allow social interaction and learning to take place in attractive environments are popular should not be surprising but it is the emotional response to space that is of particular interest. Space attachment theory has usually centred on home or places with religious or national symbolism. This paper identifies an element of emotional resonance to areas of the university campus, especially the library, that will warrant further research.

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The Journal Enhancing the Learner Experience in Higher Education can be found at:

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