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									“A Descriptive Study of Informal Learning Spaces in the College of
                    Business Administration”

                            Fall 2006
                        Sabbatical Report
               College of Business Administration
                   Northern Arizona University

                         James V. Pinto
                     Professor of Economics

                            Revised
                          June 2, 2010
                                    Abstract

    “A Descriptive Study of Informal Learning Spaces in the College of
                        Business Administration”

This is a report on research completed during my sabbatical, Fall 2006. There
are three types of informal learning spaces in the CBA: classroom front porches,
breakout spaces and lounge spaces. Collected data included measures of how,
why and when the spaces were used. Four surveys measured the attitudes of
CBA faculty members, the students who actually use the spaces and classroom
students by major who might use the spaces. Some of the findings of the study
include that CBA Professors think that informal learning spaces enhance
learning, but few use them for their classes. The top reasons for using the
spaces by students were for group work (teams), homework, e-mail and study.
They like spaces because of space, convenient, quiet and computers.
Improvement of the spaces could include more than one PC per space, more
spaces, solid room dividers and printers. There is a uniform distribution of logons
Monday through Thursday. Breakout spaces average length of logon is 3.2
times that of front porches. The highest percentage logons were from 10-11AM.
James V. Pinto                   Sabbatical Report                        Fall 2006


     “A Descriptive Study of Informal Learning Spaces in the College of
                         Business Administration”

Nature of Sabbatical Project

Part of my sabbatical period of Fall 2006 was spent traveling with Don Carter,
Director of the E-Learning Center. We attended the 2006 International Educause
Conference in Dallas, Texas. At the conference, I attended workshops and
academic sessions on topics of learning spaces in general and informal learning
spaces in particular. Scheduling problems prevent us from doing other travel
originally planned. At the beginning of the sabbatical period, Director Carter
outlined three possible areas of investigation that I might take. These areas
included: 1) student learning and engaging them in content rich and project
based experiential activities, 2) student interaction and informal vs. formal
learning spaces in the CBA, and 3) collaborative developments with other
universities and business colleagues. It was not possible to focus on all three of
these areas. During the remainder of the sabbatical period, I concentrated on
the project of studying the informal learning spaces in the new College of
Business Administration building at Northern Arizona University. I wish to thank
Don Carter and Dean Mason Gerety for supporting this research with funding
and suggestions.

Informal Learning Spaces in the CBA

There are three types of informal learning spaces in the CBA: classroom front
porches, breakout spaces and lounge spaces. Classroom front porches are the
tables located just outside the CBA classrooms with several tall chairs and a
computer terminal but no enclosed spaces. Breakout spaces are the glass-
enclosed rooms located in the middle of the open spaces including large tables,
a computer terminal and white boards. Lounge spaces include any place to sit
with or without a table but without a computer. There are 11 breakout spaces, 12
classroom front porches and many lounges spaces in the CBA. Each type of
informal learning space fulfills different needs of the student population using
them. Information collected by four different surveys measured various aspects
of the usage patterns. See the maps found at the end of Appendix 4 for the
informal learning spaces located on all four floors of the CBA.

The Surveys

The surveys used included: 1) a survey of students using the spaces, 2) a
survey of students in classrooms, 3) a survey of CBA faculty and 4) a survey
conducted by the College of Business Administration Information Technology
(CBA IT) department of the computer logins in the spaces. The survey of
students in the spaces and the CBA IT survey were during the 7th, 11th and 15th
weeks of the fall 2006 semester. The CBA faculty survey was during the 1st
week. The students in classrooms survey was held the 11th week.



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James V. Pinto                   Sabbatical Report                        Fall 2006




One strength of the survey of students found in the informal learning space is
that it assesses variables of those people who are actually using the spaces.
The number of people in the space could be quantified. A weakness is that other
data are reported not measured. The survey of students in classrooms included
students who did not use the spaces, but the data are reported not measured.
The survey of CBA faculty provides feedback from a very important segment of
the academic population, but it was conducted after only one semester in the
new building with little time to adjust teaching methods. The data collected by
the CBA IT staff is numerical and measured directly, but the total number of
students using the space could not be determined. In all except the CBA IT
survey, both qualitative and quantitative data were collected.


        The Survey of Students Using the Informal Learning Spaces

Thanks to MBA students Krista Conway and Eileen Maldonado for interviewing
students and aggregating the data from the surveys. The Survey of Students
Using the Informal Learning Spaces results are found in Appendix 1 at the end of
this report. Stratified samples were collected across all stations and times of
day on each day of the 7th, 11th and 15th weeks of the semester.

This survey determined some of the reasons students use these spaces (see
Appendix 1, Table 1 and Chart 1). The top four reasons for using the spaces
were group work (teams), home work, e-mail and study accounting for 54.6% of
the frequencies of reasons listed. Next, the students were asked what they like
about these spaces (see Appendix 1, Table 2 and Chart 2). Space,
convenience, quiet and computers represented 56.9% of the responses. Third,
the students were asked to suggest ways the spaces could be improved (see
Appendix 1, Table 3 and Chart 3). More than 1 PC per space, more spaces,
solid room dividers and printers accounted for 51.1% of the suggestions. Next,
they were asked to report their major (see Appendix 1, Table 4 and Chart 4).
Finance, accounting and management (in this order) total 65.2% of the students’
majors. Where did you study or use computers before the new CBA building
opened? This was the question next asked of students found in the spaces (see
Appendix 1, Table 5 and Chart 5). The top two places used for study were home
and the library, which accumulated to 66.6% of the frequencies of places, listed.
Last, the percentages of observed times visited and found to be empty or
occupied were tabulated (see Appendix 1, Table 6 and Chart 6). These
percentages were divided into breakout spaces, front porches and lounges. In
total the spaces were found to be empty 61.8% of the time and occupied 38.2%.
These percentages were observed and measured, while the other data listed
above were reported not measured.

All tables and charts in Appendix 1 reflect data aggregated of the three weeks of
sampling. Upon request, this data could be reported for each of the weeks.



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James V. Pinto                   Sabbatical Report                          Fall 2006




                    The Survey of Students in Classrooms

The Survey of Students in Classrooms results are found in Appendix 2 at the end
of this report. This is only survey included in this report, which can help identify
the number and proportion of students who do not use the spaces. These data
were collected during the 11th week of the semester. Recall that these data were
reported not measured.

Appendix 2, Table 1-1, Chart 1-A, 1-B and 1-C contain the percentage of
students reported using the spaces, the average visits per week and the average
time used in minutes. It is interesting (but not directly comparable) that the
overall percentage of students reported using the spaces at 54.3% while the
percentage of time the spaces were observed occupied was 38.1% (see
Appendix 1, Table 6 and Chart 6). In Chart 1-B, the reported time breakout
spaces were used on the average was 136.4 minutes while the same figure for
front porches was 38.2 minutes; thus, break out spaces were used 3.6 times are
longer than front porches. These ratios are in line with the lengths of logons
actually recorded (see in Appendix 4). In Chart 1-C, the overall average number
of visits per week was reported to be 1.23.

Table 2-1, Chart 2-A, 2-B and 2-C contain the same breakdown of data as
reported above by major for lounge spaces. This is the only place in this report,
which contains data for lounge spaces. In this case, the by major data reflects
the suffix of the course surveyed not a measure of responses by declared major.
For data on declared major see Appendix 1 Table 4 and Chart 4.

Table 3-1, 4-1, Chart 3-A, 4-A, Chart 3-B, 4-B and Chart 3-C, 4-C contain the
same type of data for front porches and breakout spaces respectively.

                     The Survey of CBA Faculty Members

The Survey of CBA Faculty Members results are found in Appendix 3 at the end
of this report. With 42% of the CBA faculty members responding to the survey,
51.9% indicated that they did not encourage their students to use the informal
learning spaces, and 68% do not use the spaces as a part of their classes. At
the same time, 85% reported they believe the spaces enhance the learning
process.

See Appendix 3 for randomly selected comments by CBA faculty members on
each question.




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James V. Pinto                   Sabbatical Report                         Fall 2006




 The College of Business Administration Information Technology (CBA IT)
                                Survey

Thanks to Dick Toeniskoetter and Damon Brown of the CBA-IT department for
their work on this survey. Damon wrote a program to extract the data from each
individual computer terminal in the spaces. Dick created an Excel spreadsheet
with special filters designed to divide the data into any subset based on specified
variables. In addition I would like to thank MBA student Jeff Gilbert for
generating the data subsets and placing calculations into tables. The CBA-IT
Survey results are found in Appendix 4 at the end of this report.

Appendix 4, Table 1-1, 1-2, 1-3 and 1-4 and Chart 1-A, 1-B, 1-C, 1-D reflect the
most aggregate form of the data for all informal learning spaces in the CBA on
the number of logons and the average length of logons. This appendix is
arranged from aggregate data to individual form of the data. There appears to be
a uniform distribution Monday through Thursday of total logons to all informal
learning spaces in the CBA. The average length of a logon was about 38
minutes. The logon time for front porches was about 16 minutes while that for
breakout spaces was just over 51 minutes. The ratio of these times is 3.2 which
means that students were logged on in the breakout spaces 3.2 times more than
the length of logons for front porches.

Appendix 4, Table 2-1, 2-2, 2-3 and 2-4 and Chart 2-A, 2-B and 2-C show the
breakdown between front porches and breakout space on logons, average length
of logons by week, and time of day. The highest percentage logons was from
10-11AM at 13.6% of the total logons.

Appendix 4, Table 3-1, 3-2, 3-3, 3-4, 4-1 and 4-2 look at the same data for each
floor in the CBA. Appendix 4, Table 5-1, 5-2, 5-3, 5-4, 6-1 and 6-2 present the
same data for each floor in the CBA broken down between front porches and
breakout spaces. Appendix 4, Table 7-1 through 7-12 show the same data for
each individual front porch station in the CBA. Appendix 4, Table 8-1 through 8-9
does the same for each individual breakout space in the CBA. These detail data
should be referenced to determine their usefulness to particular situations.

Conclusions

Given that the number one reason for using the spaces was for group work
(teams) and given that the number one reason for liking the spaces was “space”,
then one could conclude that teams need space to work. Teamwork is very
important in the CBA. Group work is embedded in the curriculum from
sophomore to graduate level courses. The new CBA building was designed to
meet the needs of students who take courses which require teamwork.




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James V. Pinto                    Sabbatical Report                         Fall 2006


The top four reasons for using the spaces were group work (teams), homework,
e-mail and study accounting for 54.6% of the frequencies of reasons listed.
Space, convenience, quiet and computers represented 56.9% of the responses
when asked why they like the spaces. More than 1 PC per space, more spaces,
solid room dividers and printers accounted for 51.1% of the suggestions for how
the spaces could be improved.

Finance, accounting and management (in this order) total 65.2% of the students’
majors. Since accounting and management make up a majority of the majors in
the CBA, this result is not surprising. But, the result for finance majors is out of
proportion to the number of majors in that field.

The top two places used for study were home and the library, which accumulated
to 66.6% of the frequencies of places, listed. In total, the spaces were found to
be empty 61.8% of the time and occupied 38.2%. This finding would imply that
there is excess capacity in the system. The CBA student population could
double without crowding the system. Anecdotal evidence as reflected in the
survey of CBA faculty might lead one to conclude the opposite, so this result
should be surprising to most faculty members. These percentages were
observed and measured, while the other data listed above were reported not
measured.

The overall percentage of students reported using the spaces at 54.3% while the
percentage of time the spaces were observed occupied was 38.2%.

The reported time breakout spaces were used on the average was 136.4 minutes
while the same figure for front porches was 38.2 minutes; thus, break out spaces
were used 3.6 times are longer than front porches.

CBA Professors think that informal learning spaces enhance learning, but few
use them for their classes. This apparent disconnect might be explained by the
fact that the survey of CBA faculty was conducted after only one semester in the
new building with little time to adjust teaching methods.

There appears to be a uniform distribution Monday through Thursday of total
logons to all informal learning spaces in the CBA. The average length of all
logons was about 38 minutes. The logon time for front porches was about 16
minutes while that for breakout spaces was just over 51 minutes. The ratio of
these measures is 3.2 which means that students were logged-on in the breakout
spaces 3.2 times longer than front porches. As noted above, the reported time
from the survey of students in classrooms indicated that breakout spaces were
used on the average was 136.4 minutes while the same figure for front porches
was 38.2 minutes; thus, break out spaces were used 3.6 times longer than front
porches. The CBA-IT data were measurements. The survey of students in
classroom generated data that was reported by students not measured. The
observed percentage of times used was less than percentage used reported by



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James V. Pinto                    Sabbatical Report                         Fall 2006


students in all but one category (breakout spaces). The measured average
length of logons was less than that reported by students in all spaces with PCs.

The highest percentage logons was from 10-11AM at 13.6% of the total logons.
Logons from 10AM-2PM accounted for 44.2% of total logons.

Further analysis might be directed to data on individual floors in the CBA and
individual stations to identification of under and over utilized individual spaces.
One could also try to find patterns of usage across the three weeks of sampling.




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