Learning space preferences of higher education students

Ronald Beckers*, Theo van der Voordt, G Dewulf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
327 Downloads (Pure)


This paper aims to address higher education students' learning space preferences. The study is based on a survey that involved 697 business management students of a Dutch University of Applied Sciences. The research focuses on preferred learning spaces for individual study activities, which require concentration, and preferred learning spaces for collaborative study activities with peers, which require communication. The results show that students consider their physical learning environment to be relevant and assume that learning spaces contribute to the outcome of their study activities. In contrast to the literature, the findings reveal that learning space preferences of students cannot substantially be attributed to behavioral aspects, such as their individual preference for privacy, interaction, and autonomy, nor to aspects of the physical environment related to the perceived relevance of comfort, aesthetics, ICT facilities, and layout. Student characteristics, such as gender, age, study year, or living situation, have a significant, but limited influence on the learning space preferences of students. Students mainly prefer learning spaces related to their learning activities. Students prefer learning space at home for individual activities. For collaborative study activities with peers, they prefer learning space at the university. Public spaces are not popular for study activities. Overall, students particularly prefer quiet learning spaces with the possibility to retreat as an individual or as a small group. Apparently, learning space preferences are more related to perceived effectiveness rather than to experience value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-252
JournalBuilding and Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Accepted Author Manuscript


  • Environmental psychology
  • Higher education
  • Learning environments
  • Learning spaces
  • Quantitative research
  • Student perception


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