“Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces” (Summary 3)

February 15, 2016 - Uncategorized

The authors, Kathleen G. Scholl and Gowri Betrabet Gulwadi explain the holistic environment of an university. Todays university must be resilient spaces in which the learning environment encompasses more than technology upgrades, classroom additions, and its academic buildings in fact, the entire campus, including its open spaces, must be perceived as a holistic learning space that provides a holistic learning experience . Although university culture places demands on students cognitive abilities, campus natural open spaces have not been systematically examined for their potential in replenishing cognitive functioning for attentional fatigued students. As an influential landscape designer of early campuses, Fredrick Law Olmstead worked with the philosophy that the physical landscape features had a direct impact on shaping human behavior, and offer students an active, experiential education versus passive or theoretical learning. The word campus, was first associated with college grounds to describe Princeton University in the 1770s and now refers to the overall physical quality of higher education institutions. Many university founders desired to create an ideal community that was a place apart, secluded from city distraction but still open to the larger community, enabling their students and faculty to devote unlimited time and attention for classical or divinity learning, personal growth, and free intellectual inquiry. Unlike the classic designs of Americas first institutions, the physical campus of the land grant university was designed to significantly contribute to student learning through its working farms, forests, arboretums, greenhouses, gardens. College presidents approved filling existing campus open space with large, stand-alone structures that typically did not cohere or unify with the existing campus style. Since a well designed campus was an essential part of the educational experience of students, one equal in importance to the students academic subjects and connected to higher educations mission . It is this holistic view of a campus spatial patterning and the students relationship with the natural and built environment or its landscape that is capable of having an effect on student learning. Interaction with nature, in particular, can help to maintain or restore cognitive function such as direct attention, problem solving, focus and concentration, impulse inhibition, and memory, which can become depleted from fatigue or with overuse . Therefore, providing opportunities for interactions that draw upon involuntary attention could be impactful on university campuses for attentional, fatigued students and their learning mechanisms. A wide range of natural settings in and around a college campus can play a role in student learning and engagement. A universal approach to the built and natural campus spaces and their flexible and permeable boundaries in students campus experiences begins to acknowledge that student learning is dynamic, in which ones ideas are enriched through structured classroom encounters including serendipitous non structured, non classroom campus encounters. In conclusion, traditional campus indoor spaces, by necessity and function, provide ample opportunities for structured learning experiences that draw upon students direct attention. Attention to a mix of different learning spaces that combine nature and interesting architecture provide more options for regulating learning and restoration cycles. We expanded the notion of a university campus to include our conceptualization of a holistic landscape, and expanded the notion of student learning to include our vision of dynamic and holistic learning so that much needed recognizing college campus landscapes as vital learning spaces will harness the holistic potential of college campuses as attentional resources.



Scholl, Kathleen G., and Gowri Betrabet Gulwadi. “Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces.” Journal of Learning Spaces 4, no. 1 (July 8, 2015).

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