Space matters: The impact of formal learning environments on student learning


  • D. Christopher Brooks, PhD, serves as a Research Fellow in the Office of Information Technology, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. He conducts research on the impact of educational technologies on teaching and learning. His research appears in a range of scholarly journals including The Journal of College Science Teaching, Evolution, the Journal of Political Science Education, East European Quarterly and Social Science Quarterly.

Dr. D. Christopher Brooks, Research Fellow, Office of Information Technology, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Walter Library 212, 117 Pleasant Street, S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. Email:


The objective of this research is to identify the relationship between formal learning spaces and student learning outcomes. Using a quasi-experimental design, researchers partnered with an instructor who taught identical sections of the same course in two radically different formal learning environments to isolate the impact of the physical environment on student learning. The results of the study reveal that, holding all factors excepting the learning spaces constant, students taking the course in a technologically enhanced environment conducive to active learning techniques outperformed their peers who were taking the same course in a more traditional classroom setting. The evidence suggests strongly that technologically enhanced learning environments, independent of all other factors, have a significant and positive impact on student learning.