Classroom Design for Active Learning

Active Learning Classrooms at GVSU


Want to learn more about specific classroom spaces? Information about classrooms and other academic spaces at GVSU is available on these two sites. For each classroom, teaching laboratory, etc., there is a page which includes classroom attributes, capacity, a floor plan (when available), photographs, and the college to which the room is assigned for priority scheduling



Active Learning Classrooms Ecosystem at GVSU

An overview of the ecosystem appears below


Faculty engage with active learning classroom planning through:

  • College Processes (overseen by Associate Deans) 
  • Faculty Governance Committees (e.g., Faculty Facilities Planning Advisory Committee, Online Education and Microcredential Council, FTLC Advisory Committee) 

Office of the Provost

Academic Affairs Process and Procedures related to active learning classrooms are overseen by Ed Aboufadel, Senior Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. Professional development is coordinated by the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center.

Learn more: 


The design, outfitting, support, and scheduling of active learning classrooms is overseen by: 

  • Facilities Planning
  • Information Technology 
  • Registrar's Office

Active Learning in Large(r) Classes

January 3, 2024
DCIH 445 (DeVos Center for Inter-professional Health)
Health Campus

Whether you consider a large class to have 30 or 130 students, come learn about teaching strategies and classroom management techniques that can improve student learning AND make your life easier. We will discuss "small" tasks such as providing opportunities for formative feedback on learning and "large" tasks such as solving problems in groups, sharing methods applicable across a range of disciplines.

Register for Active Learning in Larger(r) Classes in Sprout by December 20, 2023.  Limited to 40 participants.  Open to all faculty and staff.


Teaching in an Active Learning Classroom Workshops

January 3, 2024

DCIH 445 (DeVos Center for Inter-professional Health)
Health Campus

Mobile furniture. Generous whiteboard space. Dynamic activity possibilities. These hallmark features of an active learning classroom have significant impacts on the ways an instructor plans and utilizes the learning space. Are you currently scheduled to teach in such a classroom? Or would you like to plan ahead? In this hands-on workshop, we will explore an active learning classroom and experiment with a variety of in-class activities. We will draw from educational research around principles of learning and student engagement. Whether you already use collaborative or guided inquiry activities in your courses or are still in exploratory mode, this workshop will also introduce you to helpful course design frameworks and models for making the most of new and redesigned learning spaces. You may not be surprised to learn that the best plans for active learning classroom utilization spill over into areas such as outside-of-class planning, use of technology, and assessment of student learning. We will provide support as you consider the details both small and large in engaging students in new ways in new spaces. Held in a relatively large classroom, this workshop is appropriate for instructors teaching courses enrolling 8-99 students.

Register for Teaching in an Active Learning Classroom in Sprout by December 20, 2023. Limited to 40 participants. Open to all faculty and staff.

Workshop Dates:

January 3, 2024, DCIH 445 (Health Campus).

August 14, 2023,  Eberhard Center 411

May 24, 2023, Eberhard Center 411 

A Sampling of Helpful Articles and Books

Adedokun, O.A., Parker, L.C., Henke, J.N., and Burgess, W.D. (2017). Student Perceptions of a 21st Century Learning Space. Journal of Learning Spaces, 6(1), 1-13.

Cotner, S., Loper, J., Walker, J.D. & Brooks, D.C. (2013). It’s not you, it’s the room—Are high-tech, active learning classrooms worth it? Journal of College Science Teaching, 42(6), 8288.

Farrow, C. B., & Wetzel, E. (2021). An active learning classroom in construction management education: Student perceptions of engagement and learning. International Journal of Construction Education and Research, 17(4), 299-317.

Finkelstein, A., Ferris, J., Weston, C., & Winer, L. (2016). Research-informed principles for (re)designing teaching and learning spaces. Journal of Learning Spaces, 5(1), 2640. 

Johnson, A. W., Su, M. P., Blackburn, M. W., & Finelli, C. J. (2021). Instructor use of a flexible classroom to facilitate active learning in undergraduate engineering courses. European Journal of Engineering Education, 46(4), 618-635.

Leijon, M., Nordmo, I., Tieva, Å., & Troelsen, R. (2022). Formal learning spaces in Higher Education–a systematic review. Teaching in Higher Education, 1-22.

Rands, M. L., & Gansemer-Topf, A. M. (2017). The Room Itself Is Active: How Classroom Design Impacts Student Engagement. Journal of Learning Spaces, 6(1), 26-33.

Soneral, P.A.G. and Wyse, S.A. (2017). A SCALEUP Mock-Up: Comparison of Student Learning Gains in High and Low Tech Active Learning Environments. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 16(1). DOI: 10.1187/cbe.16-07-0228. 

Swart, W., & MacLeod, K. (2021). Evaluating learning space designs for flipped and collaborative learning: A transactional distance approach. Education Sciences, 11(6), 292.

Talbert, R., & Mor-Avi, A. (2019). A space for learning: An analysis of research on active learning spaces. Heliyon, 5(12), e02967.

Walker, J. D., & Baepler, P. (2017). Measuring Social Relations in New Classroom Spaces: Development and Validation of the Social Context and Learning Environments (SCALE) Survey. Journal of learning spaces, 6(3), 34-41.

Whiteside, A., Brooks, D.C., & Walker, D.C. (2010). Making the case for space: Three years of empirical research on formal and informal learning environments. EDUCAUSE Quarterly, 33(3). 


Bowen, J. A. (2012). Teaching naked: How moving technology out of your college classroom will improve student learning (First). San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass Publishing. 

Baepler, P. M. (2016). A guide to teaching in the active learning classroom: History, research, and practice (First ed.). Sterling, Virginia: Stylus Publishing.

Burgstahler, S. (2015). Universal design in higher education: From principles to practice (Second ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard Education Press.


Page last modified January 24, 2024