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Research Conference 2019

Preparing students for life in the 21st Century:
Identifying, developing and assessing what matters
4–5 August, Melbourne
Associate Professor Wesley Imms

Associate Professor Wesley Imms

The University of Melbourne

The impact of physical learning spaces on student development of 21st century learning skills

The spaces within which students learn and teachers educate must play a role in equipping students with 21st century learning skills.  Certainly, this has been the policy direction of governments around the world, who, in recent years, have invested billions of dollars in so called ‘innovative learning environments’ (ILEs) – spaces whose designs are deemed superior to traditional classrooms in facilitating collaborative, communicative, creative and critical skills. However, surprisingly little research has supported this assumption. One exception is Australia’s Innovative Learning Environment and Teacher Change (ILETC) Project, an Australian Research Council linkage project built on the back of a decade of empirical research by the University of Melbourne’s cross-disciplinary (education, architecture and medicine) Learning Environments Applied Research Network. This session will discuss how physical spaces can influence learning for the 21st century and will summarise empirical evidence that examines the effectiveness of ILEs. In doing so, it provides a spatial perspective to the question, ‘How do we best equip our students for the challenges they will face in a rapidly changing world of the 21st century?’

About Associate Professor Wesley Imms

Dr Wesley Imms is Associate Professor of Education at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, a Director of the University of Melbourne's Learning Environments Applied Research Network and is currently Lead Chief Investigator on the Australian Research Council Linkage Project Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change. This project involves 15 partner organisations across Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Sweden and includes departments of education, industry and schools. Wesley has secured over A$13 million in external research funding since 2000, including two previous ARC Linkage grants and he currently leads the significant Plans to Pedagogy project, working with 11 schools in Australia and New Zealand. He teaches into masters programs, is principal supervisor to 15 PhD theses on the topic of the impact of physical learning spaces on student development of 21st century learning skills. Wesley has written over 80 scholarly papers, government and industry research reports and books on the use and evaluation of learning environments.

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