Learning spaces that foster collaboration and inspire innovation

Confucius said, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Clearly the idea of active learning dates back ages, but new research validates that student-driven education promotes retention far better than lecturing. Educators must embrace this new generation of learners today in order to create effective health care leaders for the future. Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis faculty recognize the days of passive note-taking are over. Subsequently, they need learning spaces that engage students.

“Adults learn best when they are actively participating and pursuing lines of inquiry that they generate themselves,” says Debra Bakerjian, senior director for the School of Nursing’s nurse practitioner and physician assistant clinical programs. “We are moving from faculty being a ‘sage on the stage’ to an environment where educators are the ‘guide on the side.’”

Design that moves instruction from a single cell to multiple points of interaction permeates the new building. In order to prepare future health care leaders, nurse faculty and researchers, the School of Nursing must equip health care professionals with skills to make life-or-death decisions quickly. Interactive learning enables graduates to quickly recall retained information in stressful situations.
Exciting designs within the new Betty Irene Moore Hall consist of Learning Commons and Active Learning spaces that are an extension of innovation and adaptability.


Learning commons in the new Betty Irene Moore Hall support active learning in step with a philosophy of collaboration.

“This building is supporting a philosophy and our commitment to create an environment of collaboration,” adds Theresa Harvath, associate dean for academics. “Our faculty must be more nimble than ever to create a network of courses that resembles a spider web with connectivity across the curriculum.”

Gone is the traditional lobby and long, door-lined hallways separating classrooms. Students, faculty and the community will be surrounded by open spaces that vary in size, depending on location, ranging from larger meeting spaces to smaller niches to foster collaboration. Three learning studios are planned for the building: 175-, 125- and 60-seat rooms that adapt to emphasize group learning and creative use of multimedia tools.

Engagement continues outdoors with event space for 125 people, as well as an outdoor patio and garden for interaction with the larger community served by this school and its graduates. Project criteria require technology be integrated, spaces be multi-use and finishes be timeless.

“Actively engaged students are more likely to recall what they have learned later within a variety of situations and contexts, thus increasing their ability to improve care. That’s ultimately why we are here,” Harvath adds. “These active learning spaces also serve as a resource for our colleagues in the schools of medicine and public health. Learning, collaboration and interprofessional interaction will never cease within these walls.”