Beery, T. A., Shell, D., Gillespie, G., & Werdman, E. (2013). The impact of learning space on teaching behaviors. Nurse Educ Pract, 13(5), 382-387. doi:10.1016/j.nepr.2012.11.001
Brooks, D. C. (2011). Space matters: The impact of formal learning environments on student learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(5), 719-726.
Brown, T., & Katz, B. (2011). Change by Design. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381–383. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5885.2011.00806.x
Buchanan, R. (1992). Wicked problems in design thinking. Design Issues, 8(2), 5–21. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1511637
Hatchuel, A., Le Masson, P., & Weil, B. (2004). C-K theory in practice: lessons from industrial applications. In DS 32: Proceedings of DESIGN 2004, the 8th International Design Conference, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Hattie, J. (2015) What Doesn’t Work in Education: The Politics of Distraction, London: Pearson.
Hattie, J. (2015) What Works Best in Education: The Politics of Collaborative Expertise, London: Pearson.
Seidel, V. P., & Fixson, S. K. (2013). Adopting Design Thinking in Novice Multidisciplinary Teams: The Application and Limits of Design Methods and Reflexive Practices. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 30, 19-33. doi:10.1111/jpim.12061
Comparison and contrast of the Literature.
Design thinking is a concept with enormous scope and hard to define, Collopy (2009) thinks the term itself lacks design not representing the process accurately while others such as Bruce Nussbaum (2011) contend it has had its day advocating for ‘creative intelligence’ instead. Nussbaum (2011) acknowledges the success design thinking has had in moving design out from its narrow base of ‘designerly thinking’ into the wider world resulting in an essentialist trap when attempting to define design thinking with no unique meaning (Johansson-Sköldberg, Woodilla, & Çetinkaya, 2013). Various branches of design thinking, both theoretical and practical, have resulted. Johansson-Sköldberg et al. (2013) categorise five perspectives of designerly and design thinking as well as three discourses of Design Thinking for management which Brown & Katz (2011) fall into. In terms of the perspectives of designerly and design thinking: Hatchuel, Le Masson, & Weil, (2004) is classified into “Creation of artefacts”; Seidel & Fixon (2013) into “Reflexive Practice”; Buchanan (1992) into “Problem Solving Activity”. In the literature chosen the discord and accord between the writings aimed at design, learning, and spaces are explored with a unifying concept of design thinking emerging rather than a definitive definition. The focus is upon the use of ‘design thinking’ in the context of designing educational architecture for learning. ‘The Business Academy, Bexley’ (BAB) built in the UK in 2003 under the Blair Government will be used as the example in practice where a problem solving activity was undertaken to close under performing schools and send the students to BAB (Ofsted 2006). A number of problems with the new academy that needed to be rectified may have been avoided if a reflexive approach through abductive reasoning, grounded in practical experience, was taken. The impact of modern learning spaces on acoustics, teacher pedagogical practice and student learning will be explored.
The four chosen design thinking writings come from different perspectives hence there will be differences and disagreement amongst them. There must also be common concepts in terms of a process of design thinking and it is upon this we will first look. Concept-Knowledge (C-K) theory developed by Hatchuel et al. (2004) is used by engineers to come up with new concepts and knowledge leading to new artefacts. When engineers are working in the concept space, drawing from their knowledge space to come up with new ideas, fluidity of thinking between the real and abstract is required (Kumar, 2012). When working in this space of the ‘unknown unknowns’ (Rumsfeld, n.d) concepts and ideas with no definitive answers are generated. This relates to Buchanan’s (1992) wicked problems meaning that although Hatchuel et al. (2004) is classified by Johansson-Sköldberg et al. (2013) as ‘creation of artefacts, being its end point, C-K theory is very much a ‘problem solving activity’. Also the C-K theory approach sets a clear departure from brainstorming (Poli, 2013) as new concepts leading to innovations cannot solely be wrought from existing knowledge. This has some resonance with IDEO, and hence Brown & Katz (2011), deferring the use of brainstorming until later into their design thinking processes as described by Sutton & Hargadon (1996) who quote Mullen, Johnson, & Salas (1991) that brainstorming is ineffective or leads to lower performance. Seidel & Fixon (2013) also found that, though valuable when combined with other methods, too many brainstorming sessions lowered performance. There are, however, stark differences between C-K theory presented by Hatchuel et al. (2004) and the other design thinking writings selected in that the former is very mathematically based and its intent is to build a common language of design between three professional design groups: architects, engineers, and industrial designers. Nowhere in Hatchuel et al. (2004) is there mention of anyone being able to do this and the intent is towards the professions just mentioned.
The ‘Reflexive’ perspective of design thinking pioneered by Schon was limited to professional designers (Johansson-Sköldberg et al. 2013) which compares with Hatchuel et al. (2004) contrasting with (Brown & Katz, 2011). However Seidel & Fixon (2013) investigated the use of reflexive practices with novice interdisciplinary teams but referred to Schon (1983) stating that professional designers are skilled in reflection while novice teams may find this particularly difficult and that poor novice teams may over use brainstorming and under use prototyping. The contrast with Brown & Katz (2011) is significant where design has become too important to be left to designers! Another contrast is that arguably C-K theory is more focused upon the artefact and objects rather than the human element through empathy with the user of an ‘us with them’ mindset (Brown & Katz, 2011). Buchanan (1992) also points to empathy and ethnographic research citing an example of a large retail chain improving customers locating products through observing their behaviour where improved signage did not work. However, like Hatchuel et al. (2004) it is limited in focus not clearly outlining a broad design thinking process. Seidel & Fixon (2013) and Brown & Katz (2011) both outline a broader process that include: needfinding/empathy; brainstorming/ideation; prototyping. For an outline in the process see Murphy (2015, August 16).
Design thinking is a process that may be used to develop learning spaces and there is mixed views upon the impact of space on student learning and teacher pedagogical practice. Brooks (2011) and Beery et al (2013) both agree on the lack of systematic empirical research on the impact of spaces on teacher pedagogy and student learning. However there is significant disagreement between both research studies as to the impact of learning space change. Brooks (2011) whose quasi-experimental design found space alone affects student learning significantly. In contrast Beery et al. (2013) found no significant change in pedagogy in a collaborative versus traditional classroom space contending that teachers choose pedagogy according to their preference and teaching style. This contention agrees with Hattie (2015 ) where different types of buildings have little effect on student learning with an effect size of ‘Open vs. Traditional’ spaces being just 0.01 with 0.4 being equal to a years’ progress for a years’ input (Hattie 2015 ). Hattie then goes on to say that ‘changing the shape of buildings does not lead to teachers teaching differently’ (Hattie, 2015, pp 16-17 ) and that teachers need to be coached in the pedagogies and impact evaluations of teaching in open spaces. Both Brooks (2011) and Beery et al. (2013) agree that active learning is made easier by a physical space in group mode as opposed to traditional rows. Closed traditional classrooms constrain pedagogy while open plan constrains traditional teaching (Dovey & Fisher, 2014).
BAB was initially lauded as the flagship for the Blair Government’s school building initiative (Foster & Partners, 2003), a favourite contemporary school design (Bunting, 2005) that Prime Minister Blair stated as ‘the future of education’ (Woodward & Taylor, 2006). Professor Dylan William, former deputy director of the Institute of Education acknowledged the lack of research saying he knows no studies that show changing the environment has a direct impact on student achievement (Heathcoat-Amory, 2010). A speech given by Blair in 2005 outlined the logic of starting academies giving greater freedom for schools self-governance (The guardian, 2005) with an aim to encourage integration, communication, and cross fertilisation between students of all ages (Harris, 2003). Courtyards instead of corridors were meant to foster better community and its open, transparent, and compact design to encourage integration between students (PEB, 2004).
Sir Cyril Taylor, who oversaw the process, singled out BAB classrooms having three walls and an open side as crazy, unusable, and needing the fourth wall added. (Woodward & Taylor, 2006). The open walls faced courtyards (Stuebing, 2004) with hard concrete surfaces and lots of glass providing an acoustic challenge (Smith, 2003). All student traffic through the courtyards (PEB, 2004) adding more noise. Tougher building regulations from July 2003 would mean BAB’s design would not have passed due to its acoustic design with ‘Building Bulletin 93’ strongly discouraging the simultaneous teaching of several classes in open plan spaces (Smith, 2003). Research indicates open plan ‘flexible’ areas severely restrict or prohibit certain activities due to noise (Hopkins, 2003) including inhibiting academic risk-taking due to disturbance of other classes (Spring, 2008). BAB needed not to burn its traditional pedagogical bridges by doing away with the doorway totally with an inflexible open plan (Dovey & Fischer, 2014). Such issues were known before BAB was built with open plan schools in the 1970’s being abandoned (Dovey & Fischer, 2014) and Schools for the future (2002) stating a need for enclosed spaces with open plan being appropriate for limited activity types while relying on good behaviour to minimise disturbance with consideration of these issues needed in planning stages. Educational spaces convey educational philosophy (Park & Choi, 2014), rows indicate instructionism while group hubs indicates social constructivism where deeper learning occurs in social interaction (Loftus & Higgs, 2005). Learning spaces that reflect a Social Constructivist pedagogy must be flexible due to the need for self-organising interactions that cannot be fully pre-determined (Dovey & Fischer, 2014).
The Department for education and Skills (DfES) appointed a team of consultants experienced in teaching and managing education processes (PEB, 2004) however inclusive design processes where architects learn more about pedagogy and teachers about design developing a common spatial literacy (Fischer, 2007) was needed. Architects knowing more about pedagogy and the original Chief executive of BAB, who pushed the open plan (Spring, 2008), knowing acoustic constraints was required in the design of this innovative learning space. This ‘wicked problem’ called for integrative thinking (Buchanan, 1992) with knowledge unified from multiple disciplines. Design thinking skills of ‘inspiration’, ‘ideation’, and ‘implementation’ need to be present in decision making teams (Brown & Katz, 2011). Diverse interdisciplinary teams adequately communicating is only possible with individuals having enough wit to discover what is useful in others work (Buchanan, 1992) to synthesise into the design thinking process. Designers must establish a ‘principle of relevance’ for knowledge from areas as diverse as arts and sciences determining its application to design thinking in a specific context leading to a product, guiding their efforts to gather all available knowledge bearing on how the product is finally planned (Buchanan, 1992). It is the knowledge space that informs the concept space to then build new knowledge to produce novel innovations (Hatchuel et al. 2004) where the use of relevant knowledge is vital for an innovation to be appropriate. With BAB vital knowledge was not considered and unified regarding open learning spaces, acoustic issues, and pedagogical applications.
The correct process of C-K theory (Hatchuel et al. 2004) could have avoided these issues if the knowledge space regarding open learning spaces and acoustics was more successfully drawn upon in the concept space. The extension of Hatchuel et al. (2004) common design language between architects, engineers, and industrial designers, to include educators would also minimise the chance of the issues at BAB happening in the first place. If prototyping was done, like that of the Canterbury Health District Board in New Zealand (Murphy 2015, August 19) while designing their new hospital, it is likely the acoustics issues would also have been addressed (Murphy 2015, August 25). Brown & Katz (2011) three spaces of innovation, in particular ‘ideation’ where ideas are generated, developed and tested in conjunction with prototyping was needed.
The Ofsted 2005 report rated the academy inadequate (grade 4) but acknowledged the pupils were positive about BAB. Brooks (2011) asserts physical space alone can improve student learning however there is no evidence for BAB that this is true considering more than two years in the new building resulted in grade 4 indicating the building alone is insufficient. Changing the building has little effect on student learning (Hattie, 2015 ) without addressing teachers teaching as they always have (Beery et al. 2013).The greatest influence on learning is the expectation level of students and teachers (Hattie, 2015 ).