Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2015


Table of Contents

2 - Executive Summary

3 - Nexus Learning: Philadelphia University’s Unique Approach to Teaching and Learning

3 - The Evolution of Active Learning Spaces at Philadelphia University

8 - Nexus Learning Hubs: Optimizing Nexus Learning Through Innovative Space and Technology

10 - The Design Process of the Nexus Learning Hubs

18 - Implementation and Assessment of the Nexus Learning Hubs

26 - Compiling Faculty Vignettes of Best Practices in Nexus Learning Hubs

31 - Getting the Word Out: Disseminating the First Year Successes of the Nexus Learning Hubs

34 - Lessons Learned: Garnering Information for the Next Iterations of Nexus Learning Hubs

Appendix I: Summary of Faculty’s Thoughts on Nexus Learning Hub (Hay111) and the Science & Health Nexus Classroom (Hay211)

Appendix II: Survey Results from the Mid-semester User Survey (created by Jeff Ashley and Sally Dankner)

Appendix III: Summaries of Class Observations

Appendix IV: Analysis of Steelcase Survey Provided by Steelcase

Appendix V: Raw Comment Data from Steelcase Survey Provided by Steelcase


Executive Summary

Literature suggests that active and collaborative pedagogies, as compared to traditional lecturing, may enhance student engagement, motivation, retention, learning, and achievement. While Philadelphia University’s faculty members have embraced these Nexus Learning pedagogies that facilitate active and collaborative learning, the built environment of our traditional classrooms, and their associated technologies, have often limited the effectiveness. Philadelphia University began an initiative aiming to radically transform existing traditional learning spaces into intentionally designed learning environments that aim to minimize the physical and technological limitations of some of our traditional classrooms and maximize the beneficial evidence-based approaches of active, collaborative, real world pedagogies.

This annual report summarizes the processes of design/implementation, assessment results, and lessons learned from this first year of the Active Learning Space Initiative. The planning process included key campus stake-holders under consultation with external experts in learning space design. The fall 2014 semester saw the unveiling of two Nexus Learning Hubs intentionally designed to offer more seamless transitions from different modes of active learning, enhance versatility in furniture configurations to optimize active and collaborative interactions, and couple appropriate technologies with vibrant and modern spaces to allow students to co-create and critique information in an aesthetically motivating space. The Nexus Learning Hubs have provided an experimental space offering a no-risk, highly versatile environment in which faculty members can amass evidence-based approaches to optimizing the interconnectedness of the built learning space, pedagogies, and technology. To assess the effectiveness of these spaces, and identify weaknesses or oversights (lessons learned), we used direct and indirect methods such as the Active Learning Post-Occupancy Evaluation, ethnographic data garnered from classroom observations, periodic faculty and student surveys, and summaries from two faculty feedback sessions.