Involving students in the redesign of learning environments conducive to learning and wellbeing
Keywords:Participatory design, Co-design, Learning Environments, Learning, Wellbeing
Increased understanding of the interrelations between overall wellbeing and learning calls for a holistic and multidisciplinary learning environment (LE) design. Considering learners’ perception in the design of LE supportive to learning and wellbeing is expected to positively influence (a) the design quality, (b) participatory organizational culture, and (c) learning. The nature of this process creates contradictions and difficulties, however. Stand-alone co-design efforts may convert into pseudo-consultation without actual effects; neither is it easy to consider various stakeholders’ perceptions in a balanced manner. And if not planned carefully, instead of experiencing learning benefits, participation may also be considered to be an additional burden. This paper examines how these kinds of challenges were intended to be circumvented, or avoided, in a case involving Finnish upper secondary school students in the redesign of learning spaces so as to better support their learning and wellbeing. In this project, design activities were embedded in the cross-curricular visual art project course involving 11 students, which culminated in an exhibition, during which a more representative number of students (n = 175) expressed their views in a written format. After other stakeholders, such as teachers, had expressed their views, students were given another opportunity to evaluate whether their ideas were considered in the design. In addition to evaluating the procedures employed in this project, this paper will discuss their possible transfer to other contexts. Based on the overall evaluation of the procedures, it will also propose some procedural design principles for involving learners in the LE design.
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