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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Towards co-creating a sense of place : a multilayered participatory approach, exploring learning spaces for doctoral education based on design-based research Naghshbandi, Serveh


This qualitative study developed a multilayered participatory approach, exploring learning spaces for doctoral education. As an exploratory process, this research supported the development of design methodology and domain theory based on Design-Based Research (DBR). It identified the main conceptualizations of learning space from doctoral students’ points of views and developed a participatory model to make students’ multiple voices heard. Doctoral experience is viewed as being influenced by social practices of the scholarly communities and learning space in this context is a collective resource that can be altered through imagination of its inhabitants. Intersection of Production of Space in Architecture and Situated Learning theory in Education enabled me to build an integrated conceptual framework to explore doctoral students’ perceptions, lived experiences, and imaginations of learning spaces at UBC Okanagan. Three research questions reflected theoretical and practical aims. To answer them, I developed a multi-phased research through three sequential phases: questionnaire, Photovoice, and prototyping, which respectively addressed subjective, objective, and co-constructed aspects of learning spaces. Inductive, deductive, and latent approaches in Thematic Analysis informed the data analysis process. My findings suggest that while doctoral students emphasized individual space as a necessity in any PhD journey, they viewed a learning space beyond its physicality. Participants’ experiences reinforced that learning is embedded in communities of practice in doctoral undertaking. They implied creation of communities can turn any space into a place. Participants imagined spaces that support physicality (individual and shared spaces), liminality (in-between and on the margins), and (re)-configurability. Four themes emerged as design principles: 1) learning space is a layered multi-faceted phenomenon, 2) learning space is an indicator of support, 3) learning space has a potential to improve and sustain well-being, and 4) learning space is a changing entity. I offered contextual recommendations which reflected participants’ thoughts and ideas, while I remain conscious that learning is more than the space in which it occurs, and space is more than the practices it contains.

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