Why do they study there? Diary research into students’ learning space choices in higher education

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Higher education learning and teaching methods have changed while most educational buildings are still rather traditional. Yet, there is an increasing interest in whether we can educate today's higher education students in yesterday's buildings. This paper aims to contribute to this debate by studying the learning space choices of higher education students in relation to their learning activities, personal characteristics and other considerations that may play a role in choosing particular learning spaces. A diary research method was adopted, in which 52 business management students of a Dutch University of Applied Sciences participated. They reported which learning activities they worked on during a week, where and why there. The diary format builds on the literature from various disciplines and was used in combination with a questionnaire and interviews. The findings show significant correlations between the students’ learning space choices and their learning activities, their personal characteristics and their individual preferences. Because of the shift from a teacher-led approach to a student-led approach, higher education institutions need to provide more informal learning spaces in open areas and quiet learning spaces for individuals and small groups.