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The influence of hierarchy and layout geometry in the design of learning spaces

Charlie Smith

Abstract


For a number of years, higher education has moved away from didactic teaching toward collaborative and self-directed learning.  This paper discusses how the configuration and spatial geometry of learning spaces influences engagement and interaction, with a particular focus on hierarchies between people within the space.  Layouts, presented as diagrams, are analysed in terms of teacher-to-student and student-to-student power dynamics and against an established framework of learning space principles.  The paper observes that some arrangements have underlying hierarchies which subtly reinforce traditional teacher-centred power dynamics and concludes that spatial geometry and hierarchy should be considered key parameters in learning space design.

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ISSN: 21586195

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