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Characteristics of Study Spaces

The student survey analysis section of the report provides rich insights into the ways in which Carleton students perceive their working environments and the choices they make in engaging the campus while working on assignments.  There are important implications in terms of understanding how student needs vary by the type of assignment they are working on and in terms of thinking about developing multiple designs. 

Additionally, the science writing case study provides an example of an academic department that has fostered a community in which majors play an important curricular support role. 

Study Space Preferences and Assignment Type:

Students working on writing assignments (text analyses, essays, research papers, short essays) more frequently reported looking for comfortable furniture, solitary, and quiet spaces with wireless access than did students reporting about other assignment types. This same group was less likely to select the characteristic of “help nearby” than other student respondents.  (Student Survey Analysis, p. 76)

 Developing Multiple Design Templates:

In contrast, students working on problem sets, image creation, lab assignments, exams, and presentations more frequently reported looking for study locations based on having help nearby. This group was less likely to look for comfortable furniture, solitary work environments, or wireless networking. ...A single design template may be insufficient.  (Student Survey Analysis, p. 76)

Departmentally-Based Support Communities

...Student 4 also described the community in the departmental lab. It is an environment with “people around so if we have questions, we can ask them,” said the student, noting that there were normally one or two other students in the class working on the lab. Student 2 noted that the support community extended beyond members of the class. The student described the computer lab as a place “where you go and wait for a senior to come who knows how to use Illustrator.” The student comments reflected a community in which members of the class received help from students who were either enrolled in the class or who were majors in this field. These provided a rich environment in which students could get help using tools common to the field of study such as Illustrator or tools specific to the course such as the wiki.  (Science Writing, p. 41)

  A full version of the study is freely available here.