Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Central Michigan University

“Our vision was to create a structure
that would be flexible, inviting, foster a
collaborative spirit and provide the latest
tools to facilitate optimal student
learning,” says Linda Seestedt-Stanford,
assistant dean of health professions and
the college’s project manager.

“At the same time, we wanted to reshape
the way faculty viewed teaching
environments. In the past, most
classrooms were very lecture-focused.
We wanted a building that would
encourage active learning, whether it be
faculty-to-student or peer-to-peer.”

“Steelcase’s contribution was essential. They applied
their research on learning environments to our
specific needs, and they helped us objectively look
at different ideas about how to plan and furnish
our interior spaces so they’d be flexible and
collaborative, able to serve multiple functions and
multiple users,” says Seestedt-Stanford.
For example, the CMU team was originally
considering built-in furniture in the computer labs
and student interaction areas. Working with the
team from Steelcase and Steelcase dealership
Allied Office Interiors, Inc., they discovered mobility
made more sense.

“When you think about it, who knows if we’ll even
need a computer lab in five years when so many of
our students are already carrying their own laptops?

And what good is having a student interaction area if they can’t move
things around and make it their space? What good is it if they end up not
using it?” says Seestedt-Stanford.

“In the past, most classrooms were very lecture-focused.
We want our students to take a more active role in their
learning, with faculty acting as facilitators instead of
spoon-feeding information. The furniture in the
classrooms plays a big role in achieving this,” says
Seestedt-Stanford. “Students typically spend 1 - 3 hours
in each class. They need to be comfortable and be able
to move around. Static furniture too easily translates into
static learning.”

“Without question, the building is
resulting in better learning and
teaching, and it’s also helping
attract and retain students and
faculty,” says Marvis Lary, dean.
Janet Sturm, an associate
professor of communication
disorders, came to CMU in August,
2003, from the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“This facility was a huge draw for
me to better do all the work I want
to do - teaching, research and
clinical,” says Sturm. “Now that I’m
here, I think I’m definitely a better
teacher. In my classes, I have more
options. For example, being able to
easily put two students together to
work hands-on at a computer in
the lab really helps push learning
and allows me to give more
feedback. And I’ve used the collaborative areas in the atrium as
workstations for 10 teams to think through 10 different treatment
approaches, something I couldn’t do in a traditional lecture hall.”

“It’s a building designed to
encourage linkages and
engagement,” says Dean Lary.
“It’s helping us in so many ways
to realize our full potential. Our
goals are becoming our reality.”

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?