PKAL Roundtable

2008 PKAL Roundtable on the Future Undergraduate STEM Learning Environment

February 29 - March 2, 2008

Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles
- near the Washington Dulles International Airport -
Chantilly, Virginia
February 29 - March 2, 2008

Presentations from the 2008 PKAL Facilities Roundtable

The event scheduled by PKAL, February 29 – March 2, 2008 in the D.C. area, differed from the normal PKAL STEM Facilities Planning workshops. We planned a Roundtable on the Future of the Undergraduate STEM Learning Environment. This roundtable was designed as an opportunity to examine and explore best practices and lessons learned in shaping spaces that work in that they serve 21st century students and science (STEM) most creatively and effectively and reflect institutional and societal goals for student learning in STEM fields. Participants in the Roundtable were teams from institutions anticipating new spaces for science as well as practitioners with expertise in the field.

The Roundtable was built on expertise and experience within the PKAL community of academics and architects relevant to building physical environments that:

  1. reflect deep understanding of research on how people learn, in that they:
    • provide welcoming spaces for engaged, collaborative, discovery-based learning/research of students in the classroom and lab, serving both majors and non-majors
    • provide formal and informal spaces for learning in which faculty and students (both majors and non-majors) see themselves as members of a vibrant natural science community
    • provide spaces that accommodate with ease the 21st century pedagogies and technologies that strengthen student learning, from the very first day for all students through capstone experiences for majors.
  2. enhance institutional distinction over the long term, in that they:
    • contribute to the humanity and aesthetics of the campus
    • celebrate science as central to a 21st century liberal arts education, making “doing science” a visible part of the learning environment
    • are cost-effective to maintain, and are adaptable and flexible
    • are themselves laboratories for learning, particularly in regard to sustainability.
  3. connect 21st century learning in STEM fields to 21st century practice in S&T fields, in that they:
    • reflect the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of the contemporary S&T community
    • respond to the increasingly global nature of the contemporary S&T community
    • prepare the innovative, risk-taking, creative problem-solvers needed to continue to push America’s S&T community into the endless frontier.

These are the three primary themes that were explored. In each, we examined examples from campuses in how those spaces were imagined, programmed, and constructed. As with all PKAL workshops, there was be plenary sessions, break-out sessions, and time for informal conversations. A major PKAL publication will be an outcome of this Roundtable, including full papers from accepted abstracts, as well as proceedings. Specific “recommendations for the future” in each thematic area will be included. Abstracts not selected for Roundtable presentation may be included, with illustrations, in the roundtable publication.

Roundtable Planning Task Force

Philip Long, Associate Director of Outreach and Opportunity, Office of Education Innovation and Technology-DUE-Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Jeanne L. Narum, Director-Project Kaleidoscope
Wendy Newstetter, Director of Learning Sciences Research, Department of Biomedical Engineering-Georgia Institute of Technology
Crit Stuart, Program Director for Research, Teaching and Learning-Association of Research Libraries
Louis G. Tassinary, Associate Dean for Research and Director of Graduate Studies in the College of Architecture-Texas A&M University
Susan Whitmer, Education Solutions Integrator-Herman Miller, Inc.