Jeff Waldock

Department of Engineering and Mathematics

Sheffield Hallem University, UK

Photo link here

Engagement: try to feel ‘belonging’, part of a community of staff and students. Aim: How to develop this more effectively.

Developing patterns of social behaviour.

Need IT-enabled space.

Community = having a common purpose. Space supports this aim. Communicate this idea frequently to students.

Design of Open Learning Space

(maybe in a corridor …)

  • Sense of belonging
  • Encourage staff-student, student-student interactions
  • Keep students engaged in gaps between classes.
  • Key words: active, collaborative, social
  • Activities: Peer-supported learning (PSL/PAL), group work, individual work, social/professional activities (e.g. strategy board games), informal staff-student contact (small amounts of interaction makes a big difference).
  • Activities enabled by: an attractive space people want to use, meeting rooms with white boards, tut rooms with white boards, IT enabled, card access to students after hours – trust needed (and security)
  • Room numbers in binary to make the space look mathematical.
  • Informal resource station: staff-donated textbooks, class handouts in bookshelves/cupboards.
  • Kitchen for staff only (as there are 300+ students). Coffee served at Maths Arcade (board games) events.


room 2room 3


Photos from

Survey to staff and students

  • Improved availability of staff.
  • Community aspect of space – contact between students in different years.
  • First years had 1 term before moving into new space so can compare.
  • Space enables students to work more efficiently.
  • Feeling ‘at home’.

A supportive dean was the enabler for being able to design a new space. Start with any space and develop a reputation for making engaging spaces. Eventually new spaces are built and need designing.

See full article about this space in the relaunched MSOR journal:

Space for community building. Consider sharing work there.

Annual conference 10-11 Sept in UK – consider coming.

How clear is this post?