A case study of student learning spaces during the pandemic

a sociomateriality perspective





Sociomateriality; space and place; photovoice method; digital poverty; student experience


Against the backdrop of a dynamic Higher Education (‘HE’) environment and challenges compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, this ‘on the horizon’ paper will outline initial findings from a study which seeks to explore students' perceptions of their transitions to a blended learning environment. Subsequently, this paper examines two research questions. First, what can be learned from initial findings about students’ perceptions regarding the approaches taken by the Higher Education Institution (‘HEI’) to support the imposed changes to their learning? Second, with a particular focus on spaces, how do students perceive their early experiences of the changes to teaching and assessment necessitated by the pandemic? To achieve the richness of data required, the research adopts a case study approach in focusing on a post 1992 HEI in the North of England. Drawing on the theoretical framework provided by sociomateriality, the paper will offer a reflective voice on the interaction, adjustment, opportunities, and conflicts arising from adapting residential dwellings into learning spaces. The variation in student living situations will be considered in the context of access to HE and student experience. The study draws on creative, photovoice methods to facilitate participant-led discussions in both focus groups and interviews. Illustrative images produced by participants will be included in this paper to add context to the initial analysis. Finally, future directions for the study will be outlined and considered in the context of the ongoing changes in the HE sector.

Author Biographies

Teri-Lisa Griffiths, Sheffield Hallam University

Teri-Lisa Griffiths BA (Hons) QCG MA FHEA is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology. Her teaching is focused on the development of student employability and academic skills, working with external partners to provide relevant and high-quality experiences for students. Her research interests are centered on the student experience and professional development.

Jill Dickinson, Dr, Sheffield Hallam University

Dr Jill Dickinson LLB (Hons) PGCE LLM SFHEA PhD RPA is a Senior Lecturer in Law. Jill’s research encompasses aspects of place and space, and professional development. Through her role as Senior Fellow, Jill sat on the review panel for the Advance HE Global Teaching Excellence Awards.

Anna Fletcher, Sheffield Hallam University

Anna Fletcher BSc is a Graduate Intern working within the Student Experience, Teaching and Learning directorate. She works closely with the Digital team and the Student communications team. Anna recently graduated from Sheffield Hallam University with a 1st class degree in Psychology, where she developed research skills in data analysis and evaluation.


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