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Empirical Evaluation of Different Classroom Spaces on Students' Perceptions of the Use and Effectiveness of 1-to-1 Technology

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  • The Anglican Church Grammar School and University of Queensland

Abstract and Figures

This study evaluated if different classroom layouts enacted different pedagogical uses of digital technology in a secondary schooling environment. A quasi-experimental approach facilitated by a Single Subject Research Design (SSRD) isolated the impact of two learning spaces –traditional’ classrooms, and ‘New Generation Learning Spaces’ (NGLS), on students' and teachers’ perceptions related to the effectiveness, use and value of technology as a learning tool. Results from quantitative analyses over the period of a school year indicated that the different spatial configurations did have some impact on teachers’ pedagogical uses of digital technology. This impact translated to a measurable effect on how students’ perceived the effectiveness of the technology. The findings of this study build on the empirical evidence of earlier work to suggest that the spatial layout of the physical learning environment can influence teacher pedagogical use of digital technology. The replication of these results has reinforced the credibility of this unique methodological approach, arguing this evaluative strategy can offer the capacity to generate much needed robust empirical data on evaluation of physical learning spaces and its impact on the use of digital technologies.
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Empirical evaluation of different classroom spaces on students’
perceptions of the use and effectiveness of 1-to-1 technology
Terry Byers, Elizabeth Hartnell-Young and Wesley Imms
Terry Byers is a Research Fellow in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, The University of
Melbourne and the Director of Innovation in Learning, The Anglican Church Grammar School. He is interested in
evaluating the empirical impact of pedagogies, learning spaces, and technologies in a school setting. Elizabeth
Hartnell-Young is an Honorary Fellow at MGSE, The University of Melbourne. Her research interests include
teacher professional learning, technologies for learning and student agency. Wesley Imms is an Associate Professor in
Education in MGSE, The University of Melbourne. He is currently a lead Chief Investigator on two Australian
Research Council projects in Learning Environments. Address for correspondence: Terry Byers, The Anglican Church
Grammar School, Oaklands Parade, East Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Email: Terry.Byers@churchie.com.au
Abstract
This study explored the effect of different classroom spatial layouts on student
perceptions of digital technology in a secondary schooling environment. A quasi-
experimental approach facilitated by a Single Subject research design (SSRD) isolated
the impact of two learning spaces—traditional’ classrooms, and ‘new generation
learning spaces’ (NGLS), on students’ perceived effectiveness, use and value of one-to-
one technology as a learning tool. Results from quantitative analyses over the period of
a school year indicated that different spatial configurations had a measurable effect on
how students’ perceived the effectiveness of the affordances of digital technology, with
improvements often linked to NGLS. However, the evidence suggests that a change in
learning space alone will not increase learning. A change in space supports those
teachers who are able and willing to integrate the affordances of technology into their
practice. Building on the collective methodologies of earlier work this analysis has
reinforced the credibility of this unique methodological approach, arguing this
evaluative strategy offers the capacity to generate much needed robust empirical data
on evaluation of learning environments in a secondary school setting.
Introduction
Considerable attention has identified those factors that influence the diffusion and impact of digi-
tal technology in the classroom (see Arbelaiz & Gorospe, 2009; Bingimlas, 2009; Ertmer &
Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010). Besides the quantifiable issues around access, resourcing and techni-
cal support (Bingimlas, 2009), the classroom teacher is often identified as a mediating factor in
the effective uptake and utilisation (Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010). Interestingly, the con-
stant role of the unaltered traditional classroom layout, in which the diffusion of technology
takes place, has been largely overlooked (Arbelaiz & Gorospe, 2009; Yang & Huang, 2015). The
work of Fisher (2010), Lippman (2010) and Yang and Huang (2015) suggests that the nuances
of the physical learning space can have a direct impact on the pedagogical use of digital
technologies.
Given the nascent nature of this field of study, authors have established the notion of a potential
misalignment between the nature of the traditional classroom layout and affordances of digital
technology (Lippman, 2010; Yang & Huang, 2015). The work of Tyack and Tobin (1994)
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British Journal of Educational Technology Vol 00 No 00 2016 00–00
doi:10.1111/bjet.12518
around the inherent rules or spatial grammar of the physical learning environment, has been
drawn upon to explain its mediating role in hindering or supporting change. Arbelaiz and Gor-
ospe (2009) described how the grammar of the traditional classroom layout has dictated the
often awkward physical integration and peripheral use of digital technology.
Authors have hypothesised that disrupting the spatial “grammar” could provide a possible ave-
nue to support digital technology to effect its claimed impact (Arbelaiz & Gorospe, 2009; Fisher,
2010; Lippman, 2010; Yang & Huang, 2015). However, there is a lack of systematic methodolo-
gies or empirical evidence available to evaluate this claim. Therefore, this study employed a
quasi-experimental approach facilitated by a single subject research design (SSRD) to evaluate if
different classroom layouts altered the pedagogical uses of technology in a secondary school
context. The study compared student perceptions of the effectiveness and use of their personal
Tablet PC device in a traditional classroom layout and a retrofitted new generation learning space
(NGLS). This study built upon earlier evaluations through this approach (see Byers & Imms,
2014, 2016) by extension to a larger sample and the addition of between-group comparison of
cognitively matched control groups. The result is a rigorous attempt to elicit evidence pertaining
to the potential impact of different spatial layouts on the use of digital technologies in a secondary
schooling setting.
Imposition of digital technology into traditional classrooms
In schools, digital technology has been imposed into unaltered traditional classroom spaces that
often reflect a “Pre-information Age way of thinking” (Selwyn, 2010, p. 27). This approach has
Practitioner Notes
What is already known about this topic
The macro (ie, infrastructure, resourcing and top-down policies) and micro (ie,
teacher background, beliefs, characteristics and confidence) factors that affect the
diffusion of digital technology in teaching and learning.
The use of digital technology in education has yet to be leveraged to its fullest
potential.
Physical classroom conditions (ie, air quality, light, noise, spatial density, temper-
ature and ventilation) affect optimal teaching and learning.
What this paper adds
Addresses the limited attention directed towards understanding the micro role of
the physical classroom space in affecting the diffusion of digital technology in
teaching and learning.
Indicates classroom spaces aligned with the affordances of digital technology can
effectively support those teachers who seek more effective use of ICTs in their
teaching.
Demonstrates an evaluative strategy with the capacity to generate robust empiri-
cal data on the evaluation of physical learning spaces.
Implications for practice and/or policy
Provides evidence of a cost-effective solution (the retrofit of existing classroom
spaces) to improve integration of digital technology in classrooms.
Provides research methods and data analysis techniques that can be easily inte-
grated within the schooling context.
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privileged existing ideologies and practices, with only superficial changes “to keep up technical
appearances” (Bigum & Rowan, 2008, p. 247). In these spaces, the use of digital technology has
largely sustained, and in many instances reinforced, existing behaviours and pedagogies (Ertmer
& Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010; Selwyn, 2010).
These superficial spatial changes stem from the lack of understanding exactly how the integration
of digital technology affects the physical and social conditions of the classroom setting (Lippman,
2010). Fisher (2004) suggested that this lack of understanding points to a “deep spatial silence.”
This silence is key to understanding how the salient effects of the physical learning environments
enables or restricts the implementation of technologies for pedagogical gain (Fisher, 2004;
Lippman, 2010).
Grammar of the traditional classroom as a barrier to the pedagogical use
of technology
The form and function of the traditional classroom are one of the few constants in education
(Yang & Huang, 2015). It has been shaped, reinforced and perpetuated by physical, psychological
and social constructs or the grammar of schooling (Tyack & Tobin, 1994). Like grammatical
rules, Tyack and Tobin outline how these entrenched practices and structures seek to maintain
the status quo, despite the potential of the envisioned change.
Through this metaphor, it can be understood why digital technologies are imposed on unchanged
classrooms leading to superficial changes to pedagogies and learning experiences. A common
example is the placement and use of data projectors and interactive whiteboards. Typically, these
are placed at the front of the room and have reinforced the front-centre or “fireplace” teaching
position (Reynard, 2009). From this position, teachers tend to use the technology to disseminate
content through a digital medium akin to a blackboard/whiteboard (Yang & Huang, 2015). This
example, while not a critique of the efficacy of this mode of instruction, typifies how the continua-
tion of physical conditions of the classroom maintains existing pedagogies through the peripheral
use of technology.
The study
The aim of this study was to evaluate if different classroom layouts enacted different pedagogical
uses of technology in a secondary school context. The research questions were:
1. To what extent does the spatial change affect how students’ perceived the incidence in
the use of digital technology throughout the school day?
2. To what degree does the spatial change affect how students’ perceived the effectiveness of
digital technology as a learning tool?
3. To what extent do students attribute spatial characteristics of classrooms to the way they
used digital technology in their learning and the effectiveness of that use?
4. What are the longer-term effects of the NGLS, beyond the initial spatial transition, on
student perceptions of digital technology when compared to their peers (taking into
account their cognitive ability) who occupy a traditional classroom on the same assess-
ment items assessing the same subject curriculum throughout a school year?
The hypothesis was that the NGLS layout, designed specifically with the potential provided by
ubiquitous access to technology, would enact a different pedagogical use than that experienced
in an unaltered traditional classroom layout.
The spaces
The study took place within three existing buildings that accommodated Year 7, 8 and 9 (11–
14-year-old boys) classes. Each space had a data projector and screen, with the adequate wireless
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infrastructure to connect student and teacher Tablet PC devices. The Windows-based devices,
with a digitised stylus and several applications, enabled teachers to develop teaching resources,
deliver curriculum and assess students through multimodal artfacts (ie, handwritten and typed
text, sound/voice and still/moving images). Synchronous connectivity enabled teachers to dis-
seminate content and facilitate collaboration through “teacher-whole class,” “teacher-individual
student” and “student-student” modalities of learning.
The study focused on two different classroom layouts. The first of these spaces is typical of a con-
ventional classroom considered “traditional” in layout (Figure 1). The fixed orientation of the
room focused on the front fireplace teaching position, delineated by a teacher desk, whiteboard
and screen.
The second of these spaces were classrooms, retrofitted to constitute an NGLS in line with Fisher’s
(2006) three modalities of learning (teacher-centred; student-centred; and informal). Based on
the work of Lippman (2010) around the alignment of technology and space, the NGLS design
(Figure 1) incorporated a polycentric or multiple focal point layout. The polycentric layout sought
to de-emphasise the fireplace teaching position (Reynard, 2009). The intent was to stimulate
greater movement about the space and enable adaptation and flow between various learning
modalities (Fisher, 2006). Such a design sought to remove those perceived spatial barriers that
were thought to inhibit how teachers’, and therefore students’, used their device.
Research design
The quasi-experimental approach facilitated by an SSRD moderated potential impacts on external
and internal validity through three design elements. First, the direct replication of the design,
methods and means of analysis of the earlier Byers and Imms (2014, 2016) studies improved the
generality of the collective findings. Second, between-group comparisons of cognitively matched
or “like” control groups moderated the internal validity threats of assessment, curriculum, matu-
ration and class composition. Third, each class acted as its control, baseline and unit of analysis,
which improved the statistical power of the sample and moderated the variables of the teacher
and cognitive ability.
Sampling
The sample consisted of consenting students (n5385) and teachers (n521) from 22 classes
from Years 7 to 9 (Table 1). The student sample represented a participation rate of 64%. Teacher
participants, selected through convenience sampling, reflected a fair representation of year levels
and subject disciplines (English, Humanities and Mathematics).
Figure 1: Comparison of traditional (left) and new generation learning space (NGLS) (right) layouts
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Classes were divided into three experimental groups based on the existing timetable (Table 1).
The NGLS Intervention (NI) group consisted of six classes, which spent a semester in each of the
two (traditional and NGLS) classroom layouts. These classes were the focus of the within-group
analysis that addressed research questions one, two and three.
Six NGLS Control (NC) and ten Traditional Control (TC) classes were compared throughout a
school year to address the fourth research question. These classes were the subject of between-
group analysis and matched on data from the academic assessment services (AAS) testing instru-
ment. The normed and standardised AAS test was a proxy measure of cognitive ability.
Independent-group t-test (p>.05) indicated that matched “like” (high- and mixed-) ability classes
were statistically similar.
A priori power analysis (p5.05 and d5.5) indicated that all but three (Year 7 NC and TC and
Year 8 NI) of the sample sizes were adequate for the desired statistical power (.8). To maintain
the a priori statistical power and reduce the potential for bias, a complete data set was produced
through the maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) (Peugh & Enders, 2004). First, an overall Lit-
tle’s missing completely at random (MCAR) test score greater than .05 (.94) indicated that the
missing data was, in fact, MCAR. Second, the MLE process produced a complete data set through
the Expectation-Maximisation algorithm.
Methods
The research questions were addressed through an anonymous, repeated-measures student atti-
tudinal survey and teacher focus group. The repeated measures linking pedagogy, technology
and space (LPTS) consisted of five point Likert-scale items assigned to three underlying scales.
Table 2 shows the independent variables and sample items for the LPTS scales. The items were
derived from elements of the Tamim, Lowerison, Schmid, Bernard, and Abrami (2011) and Byers
and Imms (2014, 2016) studies.
Table 2: Descriptive information for the LPTS survey digital technology questions
LPTS scale
Independent
variables Sample item
Incidence in use of digital
technology (Scale A)
Use at school
Use at home
In a normal school day, how often
do you use your Tablet PC in class?
Effectiveness of digital
technology (Scale B)
Relevance
Flexibility
Preference
I prefer using Technology instead of a
traditional paper notebook/exercise book?
Spatial effect on
technology (Scale C)
Positive influence
Effectiveness
The use of technology, in this space, has
had a positive influence on my learning?
Table 1: Summary of the sample size, participation and retention rates
Study group
Sample size Participation rate Retention rate
Yr. 7 Yr. 8 Yr. 9 Yr. 7 Yr. 8 Yr. 9 Yr. 7 Yr. 8 Yr. 9
NGLS intervention 37 21 58 69% 74% 68% 84% 74% 84%
NGLS control 28 92 NA* 52% 79% NA 86% 86% NA
Traditional control 27 45 77 56% 56% 54% 81% 78% 89%
*Not applicable.
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Data analysis
There were four distinct components to the analyses. First, post hoc Cronbach’s alpha assessed
the reliability of student survey responses. This determined the capacity the data of each of LPTS
scale to be summed and treated as one unit for analysis.
Second, one-way repeated analysis of variance (RM-ANOVA) determined if a statistically signifi-
cant difference existed between student attitudes in an NGLS compared to the traditional layout
for the NI classes. Post hoc visual analysis, effect size (Hedge’s g) and partial eta squared (g
2
)val-
ues focused on the timing, direction and magnitude of the spatial intervention on student LPTS
survey responses. To avoid the issues of positively correlated data, adjusted Cousineau-Morey CIs
were calculated as recommended by Baguley (2012).
Third, a one between- and one within-subjects factor RM-ANOVA facilitated between-group anal-
ysis of the matched NC and TC (control) classes. The analysis focused on the longitudinal effects
of the different spaces on student attitudes. Concurrently, it investigated if the effect of “novelty”
influenced the within-group intervention analysis.
Four, thematic analysis of the teacher focus group. The preceding quantitative analysis informed
the development of these themes. Analysis of the teachers’ voice, clarified how technology was
used in each layout and how this influenced trends within the quantitative analysis.
Results and discussion
The reliability of student attitudinal data
Reliability estimates through Cronbach’s alpha were calculated for each survey scale (Table 3).
All estimates were in the acceptable range identified by Gliem and Gliem (2003). This supported
data for each class in each scale to be summed and treated as one unit for analysis.
The effect of a spatial intervention on student technology usage and learning experiences
The within-group RM-ANOVA and post hoc analysis of the six NI classes determined if statisti-
cally significant changes in student attitudes correlated with the timing of the spatial
intervention. Before the RM-ANOVA, Shapiro-Wilks’s statistics supported the assumption of nor-
mality. There were instances when sphericity could not be assumed, based on the calculation of
Mauchly’s test. Consequently, Greenhouse-Geisser-corrected values are reported.
Incidence of the use of the student device
The RM-ANOVA (Table 4) and post hoc analysis (Table 5) of Scale A responded to the first
research question. The analysis suggested that the spatial intervention did not affect the incidence
of student use of their device. Post hoc visual analysis revealed that in each class, the students
indicated a consistent and high incidence (>50%) in the daily usage of their Tablet PC device in
either spatial layout.
Table 3: Post hoc reliability analysis through Cronbach’s alphas for survey scales
Pre-NGLS intervention Post-NGLS intervention
Scale Name Items Pre 1 Pre 2 Pre 3 Post 1 Post 2 Post 3
A Incidence in use of digital
technology
2 .850 .863 .846 .877 .881 .875
B Effectiveness of digital
technology
4 .772 .762 .795 .804 .821 .810
C Spatial effect on
technology
2 .806 .824 .850 .837 .813 .856
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The effectiveness of digital technology
The RM-ANOVA of Scale B evaluated student perceptions relating to the effectiveness of the tech-
nology in their learning. Five classes returned a significant time effect. Post hoc analysis revealed
that the statistically significant effects (p<.05) for classes 8.1 and 9.1 were attributed to the tim-
ing of the intervention. For classes 7.1, 7.2 and 9.2 the visual analysis revealed the instance of
latency (delayed statistical difference).
The difference in the rate of change across this sample could be attributed to teacher envi-
ronmental competency (Lackney, 2008). Lackney (2008) identified environmental
comptency as the ability to utilise the affordances of the physical learning environment
with their practices for pedagogical gain. Together with teacher self-efficacy in the use of
digital technology as identified by Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich (2010), these instances
of latency suggested that these teachers took some time before they altered their use of
technology to exploit the spatial affordances of the NGLS for pedagogical gain. Whereas,
the environmental competency and self-efficacy of those teachers of the classes 8.1 and
9.1 supported them to make those observable changes to their use of technology more eas-
ily, which resulted in a more immediate change in student perceptions.
Spatial effect on student perceptions about digital technology
To answer the third research question, the RM-ANOVA evaluated responses to Scale C, which
focused on the perceived effect of a student’s current learning environment on their attitudes to
digital technology. The RM-ANOVAs (Table 4) and post hoc comparisons (Table 5) correlated
Table 5: Post hoc visual and effect size analysis of changes in student perceptions of digital technology as a
learning tool through the spatial transformation from traditional classroom to NGLS
Incidence in use Effectiveness Effect of space
Class Visual g Visual g Visual g
7.1 NS
a
10.13 NS 10.98 NS 10.73
7.2 NS 20.14 NS 11.08 NS 10.91
8.1 NS 10.09 SS
b
11.14 SS 11.38
9.1 NS 10.27 SS 11.50 SS 11.56
9.2 NS 10.18 NS 11.06 SS 11.57
9.3 NS 20.03 NS 10.46 SS 11.08
Note.
a
Nonstatistically significant visual effect.
b
Statistically significant visual effect.
Table 4: Summary of RM-ANOVA that measured changes in student perceptions to digital technology
through the spatial transformation from traditional classroom to NGLS
Incidence in use Effectiveness Effect of space
Class MS df F g
2
MS df F g
2
MS df F g
2
7.1 .49 2.78 .99 .07 1.44 3.25 6.23* .32 .71 3 2.30 .15
7.2 2.28 3.13 2.37 .12 3.26 3.36 11.07* .34 1.98 3.36 11.07** .24
8.1 1.28 5 3.06* .12 5.00 5 11.58** .37 11.98 3.22 12.17** .38
9.1 1.01 5 2.37* .11 2.48 5 11.79** .39 4.49 5 13.11** .42
9.2 .48 5 .67 .04 3.95 5 7.39** .29 6.96 5 14.53** .45
9.3 .63 2.76 1.06 .05 1.41 3.80 1.30 .14 3.13 3.44 7.24** .28
Note.*p<.05, **p<.01.
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statistically significant differences in student attitudes at the timing of the spatial intervention for
classes 8.1, 9.1, 9.2 and 9.3. Like the analysis of Scale B, the post hoc analysis of class 7.2 indi-
cated a latent statistical change.
Analysis of responses to Scale C suggested that students identified a considerable positive change
in their use and effectiveness of digital technology during the time in the NGLS. In comparison,
during their time in a more traditional layout, their responses suggested that their use of digital
technology added little to their learning experiences. The evidence presented here does support
the suggestions of Fisher (2010), Lippman (2010) and Yang and Huang (2015) of the plausible
influence of the different spatial layouts on how digital technology is used in the classroom.
The similarity between how specific classes responded to Scales B and C, in particular, the magni-
tude and nature of the change for classes 8.1 and 9.1, could further indicate the potential effect
of the classroom teacher as identified by Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich (2010). This correlation,
coupled with the instances of latency, further strengthen the confounding influence of teacher
environmental competency (Lackney, 2008). Building on the work of Byers and Imms (2014,
2016) these findings suggest that the classroom teacher and their environmental competency
and self-efficacy are key underlying contributors in how different spaces can shape the pedgogical
use of technology.
Evaluating the longitudinal effects of different learning spaces on attitudes to digital technology
To answer the fourth research question, between-group RM-ANOVAs of matched control classes
evaluated the layout type (main effect), student attitudes (learning space and time) and the possi-
ble interaction to determine the longer-term of these effects (learning space 3time). These
comparisons focused on the impact of the different layouts, without the influence of the novelty
brought by the spatial intervention. Calculated residuals indicated there were no significant out-
liers. Shapiro-Wilks statistics supported the assumption of normality.
Incidence of usage of the student device
The between-group RM-ANOVA and post hoc analysis resulted in similar findings to the
within-group intervention analysis. Even though the RM-ANOVA (Table 6) returned a sig-
nificant time effect in four of the six comparisons, post hoc comparisons (Table 7) indicated
that none maintained a clear and consistent statistical difference across all measures. Like
the within-group comparisons, the visual analysis revealed consistent and high daily usage
of digital technology by students in this sample, replicating the findings of the Byers and
Imms (2014, 2016) studies.
Table 6: Summary of between-group RM-ANOVA comparision of the NGLS control and traditional student
perceptions about digital technology
Incidence in use Effectiveness Effect of space
Class MS df F g
2
MS df F g
2
MS df F g
2
7.3 vs. 7.5 .01 1 .01 .00 1.59 1 8.75* .28 6.35 1 20.92** .48
7.4 vs. 7.6 1.48 1 15.42** .36 10.86 1 17.73** .39 8.89 1 11.58* .29
8.2 vs. 8.6 5.25 1 17.58** .24 32.00 1 68.23** .55 52.41 1 151.31** .73
8.3 vs. 8.7 3.99 1 3.68 .10 28.55 1 43.69** .55 34.65 1 32.03** .48
8.4 vs. 8.7 8.92 1 11.81** .23 14.12 1 17.14** .30 17.26 1 13.27* .25
8.5 vs. 8.7 9.99 1 13.78** .29 27.73 1 34.38** .50 27.84 1 23.70** .41
Note.*p<.05, **p<.01.
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The effectiveness of digital technology
The analysis of responses to Scale B indicated that the students in an NGLS had a differing view
of the effectiveness of their device from their peers in the traditional classroom. The RM-ANOVAs
(Table 6), supported by post hoc analysis (Table 7), indicated a clear and consistent significant
time effect (learning space 3time) between classes: 8.2 (NC) and 8.6 (TC), 8.3 (NC) and 8.7 (TC)
and 8.5 (NC) and 8.7 (TC) across the study’s duration. Instances of overlapping CIs (p>.05) in
the post hoc analysis of the remaining comparisons meant that these did not meet the criterion of
a consistent statistical difference.
Comparison of between- and within-group analysis of responses to Scale B revealed that the stu-
dents in the NGLS tended to have a more positive perception of the effectiveness of their device
than their peers in the traditional classroom. Thereby, the replicated evidence in this sample fur-
ther strengthens the suggestion of Fisher (2010), Lippman (2010) and Yang and Huang (2015)
that different spatial layouts can impact on how teachers’ and students’ view and use
technology.
Spatial effect on student perceptions of digital technology
The analysis of responses to Scale C suggested a clear difference in how each group associ-
ated the affordances of their classroom with their perceived effectiveness of their device. The
RM-ANOVAs (Table 6), supported by post hoc analysis (Table 7) indicated a clear and con-
sistent significant time effect (learning space 3time) between classes; 7.3 (NC) and
7.5 (TC), 8.2 (NC) and 8.6 (TC), 8.3 (NC) and 8.7 (TC) and 8.5 (NC) and 8.7 (TC). These dif-
ferences suggested that the students who occupied an NGLS had a more favourable view of
the impact of the space on the use of their device, than did their peers in a traditional
layout.
The comparison of the between- and within-group analysis revealed an interesting trend about
the longer-term occupation of an NGLS. The between-group analysis to Scale C presented a
much stronger relationship between different spaces and its impact on student attitudes to digital
technology than the within-group analysis. It is thought that over an extended period, the occu-
pation of a classroom aligned with the affordances of digital technology appeared to allow
teachers time to gain the self-efficacy to alter the manner they used technology (Ertmer &
Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010). Such a conclusion supports the suggestion of Fisher (2010) around
the importance of the alignment between the space and technology to better support its effective
utilisation.
Table 7: Post hoc visual and effect size between-group comparison of the NGLS and traditional control class
perceptions to digital technology as a learning tool
Incidence of use Effectiveness Effect of space
Groups compared Visual g Visual g Visual g
7.3 vs. 7.5 NS
a
20.01 NS 10.95 SS
b
11.29
7.4 vs. 7.6 NS 10.65 NS 10.68 NS 10.60
8.2 vs. 8.6 NS 10.47 SS 11.05 SS 11.30
8.3 vs. 8.7 NS 10.29 SS 11.01 SS 10.96
8.4 vs. 8.7 NS 10.46 NS 10.59 NS 10.61
8.5 vs. 8.7 NS 10.56 SS 10.88 SS 10.85
Note. NGLS Control classes are listed first.
a
Nonstatistically significant visual effect.
b
Statistically significant visual effect.
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Teacher focus group
A focus group was conducted to provide a contextual explanation of the quantitative findings. Fif-
teen of the 22 consenting teachers (Teachers A to J) participated.
There was little discussion around the incidence of the use of the device. Participants considered
the device’s high use to be relatively unaffected by the different layouts, thereby supporting the
quantitative analysis of Scale A.
Some participants identified that the different spatial layouts had a significant effect on their use
of technology. Teacher C highlighted that the “NGLS layout allowed me to use Tablet PC for other
tasks, not just restricted to content delivery or presentation tool attached to the data projector.”
The shift away from the utilisation of their device as a content delivery tool was also supported by
Teachers A, B, E, G and I. Teacher B described how “in an NGLS I was less likely to have my Tab-
let connected to the data projector for the whole lesson. I found I only did this when my lesson
intent dictated this type of approach.” Teacher E agreed by saying that the “multiple visual focal
points allowed me to teach from different points each lesson.” Teacher G identified that “increased
movement, changed how I used the device. I was no longer tied to cable at the front of the room.”
Similar findings relating the polycentric layout to greater movement was found in the Byers and
Imms (2014, 2016) studies. The conversation highlighted how teachers and students incorpo-
rated the use of the Tablet PCs with the visual focal points (TVs and additional whiteboards).
Teacher D felt that unlike being tied “to the front of the room in the old classroom, the NGLS lay-
out opened the whole room for the opportunity for learning to occur in multiple locations.”
Teacher H described that “the multiple focal points better facilitated collaborative group
learning.” While, Teacher I identified that the “multiple focal points gave the opportunity for
greater differentiation. It allowed greater individual student focus.” Interestingly through the
focus group conversation, the participants appeared to integrate the digital and physical technol-
ogies into the same identity, as a visual display. Teacher choice appeared to be dictated by which
technology best served their pedagogical intent.
The nature of teacher comments around the pedagogical use of digital technology and the physi-
cal layout of the learning environment supported the statistical analysis of Scales B and C from
the LPTS survey. Teachers identified how the spatial affordances of the NGLS enabled them to use
digital technologies in a manner that had a positive impact on student learning. Teachers’
changed their use of all technologies (digital and physical) from primarily a content delivery tool
to one that enabled more collaborative and responsive learning experiences. Collectively, this sup-
ports the suggestions by Lippman (2010) and Reynard (2009) that de-emphasis of the front
fireplace teaching position can alter the pedagogical use of digital technologies.
Conclusion
This study evaluated the claim that different spaces enact different pedagogical uses of digital
technology. Quantitative analysis of the quasi-experimental approach suggested that the different
learning environments had a statistical impact on students’ perceptions of the effectiveness of
their Tablet PC, replicating the findings of the earlier Byers and Imms (2014, 2016) studies. Sub-
sequent analysis of the teacher focus group suggested that these differences obtained from the
quantitative analysis, stem from the greater alignment between the digital and spatial affordances
of the NGLS. These findings support the suggestions by Fisher (2010), Lippman (2010) and Yang
and Huang (2015) that the physical layout of the classroom can impact on the manner in which
students and teachers use digital technology. The findings of this study provide further evidence
that physical classroom layouts can act as a barrier to, or a conduit for, leveraging the potential
of digital technologies with the aim of making them more effective pedagogically.
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Not only has this study demonstrated the possible effect of different spaces on student attitudes to
digital technology, but the successful replication has also further demonstrated the robustness
and reliability of its methodology. The quasi-experimental approach facilitated by an SSRD
accounted for and moderated some confounding variables. Its ability to generate empirical data
evaluating the potential impact of different learning spaces has been shown in some studies (see
Byers & Imms, 2014, 2016). To further validate the approach, its methods and its means of anal-
ysis, further studies will be conducted in different contexts and sites.
Statements on ethics, open data and conflict of interest
A request to access data can be directed to authors. It is the preference of the authors that the
data is used for comparative and meta-analysis studies, which are focused on the use of digital
technology in a secondary school setting. The authors are interested in replicating this study, in
different contexts, to investigate how different learning spaces affect the use of digital technology
by teachers and student. All student data is de-identified and the site of the research is protected
under the terms of the research agreement and the University of Melbourne Human Research
Ethics Committee application #1238792.
This work is the sole work of the named authors. It has not been previously published or submit-
ted for simultaneous publication. The research was conducted in compliance with the University
of Melbourne Human Research Ethics Committee application #1238792. Consent to submit is
given by all authors.
The authors foresee no potential conflicts of interest in the work reported in this study. The
research that is the subject was derived through the Australian Research Council project ‘Evalu-
ating 21st Century Learning Environments’ (E21LE). The project aims to develop
multidisciplinary evaluation strategies for the new generation of learning environments. A key
element of the project is to develop, test and refine of tools, such as the Linking Pedagogy, Tech-
nology and Space survey instrument, and statistical techniques. This study serves as a report on
such an approach and disseminate information pertaining to the E21LE project.
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