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Student Engagement and the Creation of Student-Centered Space

Karina Ruiz — Karina Ruiz (BRIC Architecture) AIA, NOMA, LEED AP

Overview Oregon City School District recognized that gaining an authentic, first-hand understanding of how students viewed their middle school experience would be the key to reimagining traditional middle school education. District leaders partnered with the design team to convene a Design Committee that included 12 middle school students. This significant committee representation empowered students to contribute fully to design discussions and share their perspectives, experiences, and insights.

Our proposed conversation will explore the seven proven student engagement strategies we developed to position students to contribute in profound and impactful ways throughout the design process. We will illustrate how design teams ultimately leveraged student contributions to create tangible solutions throughout the two new middle schools.

Outcomes Through the exploration of seven student engagement strategies, participants will understand the importance of the following key ideas: • Student-centered schools inherently look and feel different; • Spaces that support deeper learning, exploration, and celebration of student accomplishment empower students to take ownership of their learning; • Flexible, dynamic spaces stimulate engagement and respond to diverse needs; • Environments that support individual needs can simultaneously foster a sense of community among learners; • Daily access to trusted adults is an invaluable component of building equitable student-teacher relationships

Objectives 1: Describe strategies to successfully engage students in the design of educational facilities

2: Identify examples of architectural solutions that resulted directly from student engagement and input

3: Evaluate engagement strategies and resulting outcomes in relation to stated goals

4: Identify lessons learned and opportunities for meaningful engagement moving forward

Conversational Practice

Student engagement is typically approached as a formality or smaller component of a larger engagement strategy. We will engage attendees in an interactive, multimedia conversation to explore what happens when sustained, meaningful student engagement is made to be a central pillar of the school design process. As a result, we will leverage the “transformational” adult learning principle to illustrate how a shift in perspective can yield invaluable and unexpected insight to transform learning environments.

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