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Planning a Collaboration Commons: a mixed-methods
approach to inform design
Steve Borrelli ■ Chao Su ■ Zoe Chao
Penn State University
Catalyst for the Study
https://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/4948439110/sizes/l
Research Questions
1. What are the workspace needs for students today?
2. Should additional soft seating areas be integrated
into the design?
Mixed-Methods Employed
1. Student focus groups
2. Observation of use of soft-seating areas (living rooms)
in Knowledge Commons
3. Conversations with students in living rooms
4. Interviews with Knowledge Commons personnel
5. Flip charts
6. UX Cafe
7. Existing data (cognitive mapping, Ithaka survey data)
“I come and conquer.” – Female
undergraduate student
“I come here specifically when I
have to get a lot of work
done.” – Undergraduate student
“If I come I’m coming to do
three separate assignments.”
– Undergraduate student
Students Come to the Library to be Productive
https://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/6461600235/sizes/l
The Library as Motivator
“It all comes back to
motivation for me, honestly
when I see people studying I
study because I get distracted
a lot. If I’m alone I just want
to leave the table, but here I
want everyone studying. And
it’s called “THE LIBRARY.”
– International undergraduate student
https://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/6803097323/sizes/l
Aesthetics of a Space Impact Choice
“I’m all about how the room
feels. If it feels like I should be
studying, I’ll study a lot more.
…With all the books around its
just classy. I walk in and I feel
guilty and like I need to be
studying.” - Undergraduate student
describing the Paterno Family Humanities
Reading Room
Zoe Chao
A Lack of Seating Impacts Choice
“Oh my god, I avoid the library
during finals week.”
– Undergraduate student
“Literally have to wake up early
and claim your territory.”
– Undergraduate student
“As semester goes on you just like
you have to come here at 6 am to
get a table.” – Undergraduate student http://sites.psu.edu/gableighc/wp-content/uploads/sites/15010/2014/10/8232539769.jpg
Students Want Large Tables and Lots of Them
“Spread out, it looks like a
disaster zone.” – Undergraduate
student, describing what her workspace
typically looks like
“Planner open over here, book
open over here, laptop, snacks,
cell phone.” –Undergraduate student,
describing what her workspace typically
looks likehttps://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/5684172633/
Immense Desire for Increased Outlet Availability
“The 3rd floor business, where we
like to study, I don’t think there
were outlets at every cubby, but
now I’m a Junior and there’s
outlets there now. You can see
that they’re trying to do things like
that.”– Undergraduate student, describing
what she needs while studying in the library
“Not enough outlets in the stacks.”
– Undergraduate student, describing what
he needs while studying in the library
https://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/4946561701/
Desire for a Larger Café With Increased Hours
Chao Su
Desires in a café:
• Open hours reflective of open
library hours as possible
• When café is closed students
want convenient vending with
healthy and affordable options
Soft Seating Valued for Comfort but with Limited Use
“I’ve never seen anyone
successfully study there.” –
Undergraduate student, describing her
experience with the soft seating areas in
the KC
“The desks that they have
there are not convenient to
have your computer on.” –
Undergraduate student, describing
furnishings in the KC ‘living room’ areas
Chao Su
Recommendations
1. Focus design to maximize available seating and workspaces
for productivity over comfort
2. Integrate large tables into the design
3. Design spaces such that the intended activities and noise
levels are communicated through a combination of furniture
and other design elements
4. Limit integration of soft-seating to near entrances and Cafés
5. Configure soft-seating areas as much for productivity as
comfort
6. Integrate outlets wherever possible, particularly in the
furniture users are sitting in
Questions?
Steve Borrelli
sborrelli@psu.edu

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Planning a Collaboration Commons: a mixed-methods approach to inform design

  • 1. Planning a Collaboration Commons: a mixed-methods approach to inform design Steve Borrelli ■ Chao Su ■ Zoe Chao Penn State University
  • 2.
  • 3. Catalyst for the Study https://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/4948439110/sizes/l
  • 4. Research Questions 1. What are the workspace needs for students today? 2. Should additional soft seating areas be integrated into the design?
  • 5. Mixed-Methods Employed 1. Student focus groups 2. Observation of use of soft-seating areas (living rooms) in Knowledge Commons 3. Conversations with students in living rooms 4. Interviews with Knowledge Commons personnel 5. Flip charts 6. UX Cafe 7. Existing data (cognitive mapping, Ithaka survey data)
  • 6. “I come and conquer.” – Female undergraduate student “I come here specifically when I have to get a lot of work done.” – Undergraduate student “If I come I’m coming to do three separate assignments.” – Undergraduate student Students Come to the Library to be Productive https://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/6461600235/sizes/l
  • 7. The Library as Motivator “It all comes back to motivation for me, honestly when I see people studying I study because I get distracted a lot. If I’m alone I just want to leave the table, but here I want everyone studying. And it’s called “THE LIBRARY.” – International undergraduate student https://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/6803097323/sizes/l
  • 8. Aesthetics of a Space Impact Choice “I’m all about how the room feels. If it feels like I should be studying, I’ll study a lot more. …With all the books around its just classy. I walk in and I feel guilty and like I need to be studying.” - Undergraduate student describing the Paterno Family Humanities Reading Room Zoe Chao
  • 9. A Lack of Seating Impacts Choice “Oh my god, I avoid the library during finals week.” – Undergraduate student “Literally have to wake up early and claim your territory.” – Undergraduate student “As semester goes on you just like you have to come here at 6 am to get a table.” – Undergraduate student http://sites.psu.edu/gableighc/wp-content/uploads/sites/15010/2014/10/8232539769.jpg
  • 10. Students Want Large Tables and Lots of Them “Spread out, it looks like a disaster zone.” – Undergraduate student, describing what her workspace typically looks like “Planner open over here, book open over here, laptop, snacks, cell phone.” –Undergraduate student, describing what her workspace typically looks likehttps://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/5684172633/
  • 11. Immense Desire for Increased Outlet Availability “The 3rd floor business, where we like to study, I don’t think there were outlets at every cubby, but now I’m a Junior and there’s outlets there now. You can see that they’re trying to do things like that.”– Undergraduate student, describing what she needs while studying in the library “Not enough outlets in the stacks.” – Undergraduate student, describing what he needs while studying in the library https://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/4946561701/
  • 12. Desire for a Larger Café With Increased Hours Chao Su Desires in a café: • Open hours reflective of open library hours as possible • When café is closed students want convenient vending with healthy and affordable options
  • 13. Soft Seating Valued for Comfort but with Limited Use “I’ve never seen anyone successfully study there.” – Undergraduate student, describing her experience with the soft seating areas in the KC “The desks that they have there are not convenient to have your computer on.” – Undergraduate student, describing furnishings in the KC ‘living room’ areas Chao Su
  • 14. Recommendations 1. Focus design to maximize available seating and workspaces for productivity over comfort 2. Integrate large tables into the design 3. Design spaces such that the intended activities and noise levels are communicated through a combination of furniture and other design elements 4. Limit integration of soft-seating to near entrances and Cafés 5. Configure soft-seating areas as much for productivity as comfort 6. Integrate outlets wherever possible, particularly in the furniture users are sitting in

Editor's Notes

  1. https://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/6803097323/sizes/l
  2. Another quote we could consider adding – “carrels generally don’t have enough space to spread out if doing anything other than reading and writing”