This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Engaged Active Student Learning: A Tale of Two Design Case Studies




Gatlin, Anna Ruth

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Consumer and Design Sciences


Active learning, a constructivist approach to learning, can be an effective pedagogical tool. As active learning becomes more ubiquitous and begins to replace some lecture-style content delivery, the built environment should also change. A design case study, “a description of a real artifact or experience that has been intentionally designed” (Boling, 2010, p. 2), was the best fit for the research design, as it these design case studies describe the design and construction process that was undertaken for three active learning space projects. The first two projects described, Haley Center 2213 and Sciences Center 118, are renovations to existing classrooms, and the Design Thinking framework is applied. The second design case study (and third project) is an active learning classroom building called the Mell Classroom Building; the project team used the lessons learned from Haley Center 2213 and Sciences Center 118 to inform design decisions. Major themes that emerged include the benefits of collaboratively working with an interdisciplinary team on small and large scale projects, rather than passing the project from one unit to another; the importance of prototyping new concepts and design ideas on a small scale to allow stakeholders to experience the space, test new concepts, and acquire feedback before scaling up to designing and constructing a new building, and the need for flexibility in both furniture and the future use of space and technology in a building to ensure that it is future-proofed. More active learning classrooms and buildings are being constructed. Working with a collaborative team to prototype space and ensure flexibility can help stakeholders achieve the outcomes they desire.