Modern Higher Education Learning Environments
According to Learning Environments: Where Space, Technology, and Culture Converge, which was published as part of the Educause Learning Initiative, the term learning environment "encompasses learning resources and technology, means of teaching, modes of learning, and connections to societal and global contexts. The term also includes human behavioral and cultural dimensions, including the vital role of emotion in learning, and it requires us to examine and sometimes rethink the roles of teachers and students because the ways in which they make use of spaces and bring wider societal influences into play animates the educational enterprise." (p. 3)
The UA Office of Instruction and Assessment offers a series of self-enrolled and self-paced online tutorials. They have been designed for any UA instructor, including graduate teaching assistants, and are offered through D2L.
The Tutorials present theory and evidence for various teaching practices, along with practical examples and prompts for enrollees to apply these practices to their teaching. For those who wish to learn more about engaging diverse students and designing inclusive and accessible learning environments, the following Tutorial is recommended:
- Teaching Diverse Students - This tutorial invites instructors to reflect on their own beliefs and skills, their teaching practice and course design. Materials and activities will facilitate exploring strategies for engaging diverse students and designing inclusive and accessible learning environments. Some of the topics include inclusive excellence, intercultural (teaching) competence, and universal design. All units include reflective activities and invite participants to create and revise their teaching materials.
Chapter 6 The Design of Learning Environments in the 2002 National Academy Press (NAP) publication How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and Schools includes fundamental concepts that apply to learners of all ages:
Inclusivity is an important consideration in all classrooms, but particularly in Collaborative Learning Spaces. The following information from several peer institutions is relevant for faculty who teach in the UA Collaborative Learning Spaces:
- Increasing Inclusivity in the Classroom (Vanderbilt University)
- Creating Inclusive College Classrooms (University of Michigan)
The 2006 Educause publication, Learning Spaces, includes a chapter that focuses on the psychology of learning environments:
As stated by Lynn Nadel, UA Chair of the Faculty:
"Diversity, in all its forms, is one of the core values of the UA. Taking advantage of diversity requires more than tokens, it requires systematic inclusion of diverse approaches, perspectives and people. Easier said than done sometimes. The attached document provides some ideas that faculty might benefit from as they take on the challenge of making diversity work in the classroom - it was prepared by Dr. Jesús Treviño. "