Herman Miller's Learning Studio Research Program Addresses Evolving Needs in Higher Education Spaces
April 01, 2009
Herman Miller, Inc., is continuing its focus on researching the evolving needs of higher education with the Learning Studio Research Program, a concept developed by the company's Education Solutions team. The Learning Studio Research Program provides participating higher education institutions the opportunity to explore new approaches to learning space design, measure the impact on student learning and success, and inform large scale design decisions on campus.
"Research indicates the need to support new forms of teaching and learning on campus," said Jeff Vredevoogd, Herman Miller's Education Solutions lead. "The Learning Studio Research Program approach allows institutions to experiment with space and determine how it can be used to effectively support the needs of faculty and students."
The Learning Studio Research Program goes beyond simply creating a new learning space on campus--it is a multi-phase, collaborative, research-focused effort that measures the impact of space on teaching and learning on campus.
Butler Community College in Kansas partnered with Herman Miller to create four Learning Studios--two general education classrooms and two nursing classrooms.
"Research conducted in those Learning Studios indicates that students and instructors preferred those spaces, rather than the college's traditional 600-square-foot, limited technology rooms," said Dr. Gene George, Executive Director of Research and Institutional Effectiveness at Butler.
"Students and teachers who participated in our study reported that more student-to-student and student-to-teacher interactions took place in the Learning Studios than would in our traditional classrooms," George said. "Students reported that they could move furniture around more easily, which supported group work. Instructors said the Studios made collaboration with students easier."
According to Vredevoogd, the Learning Studio Research Program is not a prescriptive solution. No two Learning Studios are the same. Each is tailored according to the higher education institution and its research goals.
"The Learning Studio concept allows faculty and students to interact in the most meaningful and creative ways," said Dr. Karen Adams, Dean, College of Education and Human Services, Central Michigan University. "The use of furnishings, together with technology and instructional strategies, all meet to foster an increase in learning, while the research-based component is informative and helpful to faculty."
Additional research demonstrates that students find their instructors more approachable and less intimidating, and faculty members believe their modified teaching style strengthens relationships with their students. Students also report they are more likely to approach other students to extend the discussion of ideas outside the classroom.
"We see the Learning Studio project as an opportunity to involve faculty and staff in a systemic discussion of how we create student success at Butler, and how physical space and technology can be used as teaching tools to create student engagement," George said.
About Herman Miller, Inc.
Herman Miller works for a better world around you--with inventive designs, technologies and related services that improve the human experience wherever people work, heal, learn, and live. Its curiosity, ingenuity, and design excellence create award-winning products and services, resulting in more than $2 billion in revenue in fiscal 2008. Innovative business practices and a commitment to social responsibility have also established Herman Miller as a recognized global company. In 2009, Herman Miller was again cited by FORTUNE as both the "Most Admired" in its industry and among the "100 Best Companies to Work For" in America, while Fast Company named Herman Miller among the innovative "Companies to Watch." Herman Miller trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol MLHR.