A framework for exploration of relationship between the psychosocial and physical learning environment

S. Baars*, G. L.M. Schellings, S. Krishnamurthy, J. P. Joore, P. J. den Brok, P. J.V. van Wesemael

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In order to construct a shared body of knowledge, research involving the relationship between the psychosocial learning environment (PSLE) and the physical learning environment (PLE) needs a commonly-accepted conceptual framework. By means of a thematic literature review, we collected the main aspects of the PSLE and PLE, their definitions and their relations as identified by earlier research. These findings led to a conceptual framework that structures the dimension of the PSLE into the sub-dimensions of personal development, relationships, and system maintenance and change, and the dimension of the PLE into the sub-dimensions of naturalness, individualisation, and stimulation. For each of these sub-dimensions, the framework distinguishes an intended, implemented and attained representation. A conceptual PSLE-PLE Relationship (PPR) model enables relations to be visualised. The review confirms that PSLE and PLE are interrelated in interactions between different sub-dimensions and their representations. However, evidence regarding these relationships is still weak because of the limited number of studies and their methodological limitations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-69
Number of pages27
JournalLearning Environments Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Conceptual analysis
  • Conceptual framework
  • Multidisciplinarity
  • Physical learning environment
  • Psychosocial learning environment
  • Thematic literature review


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