a framework for designing student learning environments for the future

What is comfort?

Comfort refers to both a physical and mental sense of well being.   The concept encompasses  ergonomic furniture, acoustics, lighting, and colour. Students describe comfort as conveying a form of institutional respect.

This rough sketch from a consultative forum on this project suggests the basics for an outdoor learning space in Australia :

Protection from the sun, rain and wind, access to wifi, and a powerpoint to recharge the laptop.

The SKG project found that students want (and need) the following things to be comfortable on campus:

  • Room to move  and room to spread out
  • Fresh air
  • Protection from the elements
  • Comfortable outdoor furniture with wifi access
  • Convenient places to meet after the lecture
  • Student kitchens – access to hot water to make their own coffee or tea, a fridge to store food
  • Somewhere to store their belongings
  • Access to showers
  • Queues – their time is valuable so they don’t want to waste it waiting in line
  • Indoor and outdoor play and rest spaces

They are also interested in being part of a university community, and the elements that we have identified as signifying comfort go some way to engendering a sense of community and belonging: of being wanted and valued by the institution.

For teaching staff the list wasn’t very different.  They also want protection from the elements and outdoor settings that would enable them to hold classes outside.  They want natural light in their work spaces, and flexible furniture so they can quickly set up a room to suit their style of teaching.  They want access to the latest ‘non-invasive’ technology – smart boards, data projectors – as well as being able to use ‘old style’ teaching tools such as blackboards.  They want teaching spaces that are warm in winter but cool in summer.  And they very much want the number of students in the class to match the resources in the class room.

More on Comfort

Comfort in local and international settings

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Support for this project website has been provided by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council Ltd, an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.  The views expressed in the project do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Learning and Teaching Council.


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