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Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change Project

Churchie undertook world-leading research into the impact of learning spaces, teaching practice and educational outcomes. The School drew on expertise and research within the School as well as university and industry partnerships.
In 2015, Churchie secured a prestigious Australian Research Council grant to undertake this project, which will have long-lasting and substantial impacts in education across the world. The project was one of the largest ever educational focused research projects funded by the Australian Commonwealth Government.
Churchie students are already experiencing the benefits of innovative learning environments, such as the Hayward Midson Creative Precinct, and we welcome you to visit the School to experience these facilities for yourself. This project was led by Churchie’s Director of Innovation Mr Terry Byers, who has authored eight peer-reviewed papers on Churchie’s research as part of his PhD programme. Furthermore, the project enjoyed the support of Churchie’s dedicated and inspiring teaching staff. Their ability to embrace change, to innovate and to take informed risks has ensured that Churchie continues to lead internationally in education.

Project background

To respond to the learning needs of today’s learners, schools across Australia and New Zealand are investing significantly in building innovative learning environments (ILEs). These spaces are multi-modal and rich in technology, with flexible layouts to accommodate socially-oriented, participatory and independent learning.

Despite the massive ILE infrastructure development, there is a paucity of evidence to inform the alignment of teaching practices. It is now clear that new learning modalities demand new teaching methods. These require significant changes in approaches to teaching. The research team of the Innovative Learning Environment and Teacher Change project is uniquely situated to address this issue.

This project aimed to bridge a gap between the educational potential of ILE design, and their actual performance, working with schools, government and industry. The key objective of this project was to analyse the relationships between quality teaching and effective use of ILEs, creating robust data to verify this impact and guide developments in pedagogy, policy and design and produce strategies to enable improved learning in schools across Australia and New Zealand.

Linking Pedagogy, Technology and Space observational metric

Churchie is one of the few educational institutions, globally, to have empirically evaluated the learning return on the investment of its new generation learning environments. Quantitative evidence from these initial studies informed the design of the Hayward Midson Creative Precinct and has enabled the School to evaluate the effectiveness of this learning space on student outcomes and teacher pedagogies. Such research has enabled the School to pioneer innovative tools that are now used internationally.
One of these tools has been the Linking Pedagogy, Technology and Space (LPTS) observational metric. To assist teachers through the transition into the radically different space in Hayward Midson and to ensure the School’s investment actually influenced the intended student learning paradigm, the research partnership devised novel visualisation tools. The LPTS observational metric provided instant and visual multi-dimensional breakdowns, to assist classroom teachers to better understand their practice and its effects on their students. This metric has expanded to the annual staff appraisal process, with teachers choosing to use these visualisations as further evidence of their exemplary practice.

The visualisation illustrates changes in teacher behaviour before and after the occupation of the Hayward Midson Creative Precinct. Teachers demonstrated an increased level of classroom activities that employ a more active and responsive pedagogical orientation (interactive instruction, providing feedback, class discussion and questioning), which had a consequential effect of supporting more dynamic learning experiences. On the other hand, the teachers spent less time engaged in those more passive learning experiences (direct instruction and facilitation). As a consequence, this significant pedagogical shift saw students more engaged in their learning through creative and hands-on tasks, which require them to apply their knowledge in novel or more open-ended learning experiences that require higher-order thinking skills.
The success of the LPTS observational metric and the unique evidence-based nature of the Churchie and University of Melbourne partnership has influenced schools nationally and internationally. Its success has seen the partnership grow to other schools, government bodies and industry. Furthermore, the LPTS observational metric is now used in schools and universities nationally and internationally as a robust metric to analyse and inform teacher practice. 

Project partners

The University of Melbourne acted as the administering organisation for the Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change project. The partner organisations range from international companies and professional bodies through to educational systems and ‘lighthouse’ schools:
  • Anglican Church Grammar School, QLD (lighthouse school)
  • The Australian Science and Mathematics School, SA (lighthouse school)
  • Woodleigh School, VIC (lighthouse school)
  • New Zealand Ministry of Education (education system)
  • Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment (education system)
  • Australian Capital Territory Department of Education and Training (education system)
  • Parramatta Diocese Catholic School System (education system)
  • Ecophon Telstra (industry partner)
  • Marshall Day Acoustics (industry partner)
  • Sydney Powerhouse Museum of Applied Arts and Science (museum)
  • Telstra (industry partner)
  • Rubida  (industry partner)
  • Hayball Architects (industry partner)
  • Council of Educational Facility Planners International Australasia Telstra (professional body).