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Changed learning through changed space: When can a participatory approach to the learning environment challenge preconceptions and alter practice?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Pamela Woolner, Sheila McCarter, Dr Kate Wall, Steven Higgins



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Sage Publications Ltd., 2012.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


School premises make a difference to learning, but it is important to understand the relationship between setting and educational activities. Physical space has been found to entrench practice, making it harder to reflect and make changes. Yet changes made to the physical environment may not lead to changes in teaching or learning. This may be understood theoretically in terms of levels of participation, and many school design practitioners advocate active participation of school communities in the processes of change. This article considers two case studies of teachers and learners engaging with their physical school learning environment. The overview of responses and outcomes generated by these two studies enables the identification of central issues for effective participatory approaches to the learning environment.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Woolner P, McCarter S, Wall K, Higgins S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Improving Schools

Year: 2012

Volume: 15

Issue: 1

Pages: 45-60

Print publication date: 01/03/2012

Online publication date: 19/03/2012

Date deposited: 09/02/2019

ISSN (print): 1365-4802

ISSN (electronic): 1475-7583

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/1365480211434796


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