Data driven design- a study on the connection between space use and engagement


Chip Hill  – Assistant Provost for Administrative Operations, Georgia State University

Molly Schaller, Ph. D. – Project Researcher, Saint Louis University

Tina Banach- Information Analyst at SmithGroup, Washington DC

Doug Dahlkemper – Architect and Principal at SmithGroup, Washington DC



The SmithGroup along with three universities and a team of researchers spent three years collecting data on space use of three new law school buildings across the country: American University in DC, Georgia State University in Atlanta, and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. The study was initiated in 2014, gathering and evaluating a wide range of data for one year in the existing facility then two years in the new facility for each of the three law schools.  This presentation highlights how the use of pre and post assessment data can be used to understand the relationship between space, student engagement and positive learning outcomes. Student engagement is one primary measurement as a valid indicator of educational effectiveness.

Qualitative analyses were conducted on the results from interviews and focus groups within each university along with quantitative data. The team will present the results from the study to illuminate similarities and differences in perspectives of faculty, staff and students.  Lastly the analysis of the observational data uncovered insight into use patterns across the three different buildings for both the formal and informal learning environments for an understanding of the way space affects engagement within 21st century law education.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand how to translate data into a meaningful analysis of behavior, student engagement, and learning.
  • Discover the relationship between space design, student interaction and positive learning outcomes.
  • Apply lessons learned to inform an understanding of student and faculty space needs and access to resources.

Session Track


Experience level