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How to Make Learning Commons Really Work: A research based evaluation explores how to assure that a Learning Commons is really an effective learning environments

Laura Wernick, FAIA, Principal

Kristen Gallo, Principal 

HMFH, McAuliff ES, Community Circle

Domains: Learning, Context, Process

Course Level: Intermediate

Learning Units: 1 LU/HSW

Room: A601

Friday, October 27, 2017 @ 2:00 pm


In 2012 two identical K-5 elementary Schools opened up in Concord NH. Each school was designed around a revolutionary Learning Commons that spanned the length of the academic wing and allowed classrooms to open into project areas and other specialized learning spaces. This provided a rich opportunity for research into the effectiveness of these innovative schools. In 2016, a 3rd party researcher went into the now four-year-old Concord Elementary Schools to ask the educators what worked and what did not work in the Learning Commons that were so integral to the design of the schools. Questions were asked to understand how the Learning Commons were being used and what were the opportunities and what were the barriers created by the Learning Commons. The results were surprising to the architects and to many of the educators and have serious implications for every designer of elementary educational facilities.

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Understand the opprotunities that a learning Commons presents for supporting new ways of teaching and learning
  2. Understand how to design a learning commons to best support teaching and learning
  3. Explore the impact of acoustics, thermal quality and lighting on students health and learning
  4. Understand how to use a POE to improve architectural practice