Some Office B participants said it was “very spacious and neatly arranged;” they felt it was a normal professional layout, and the advisor “was approachable and comfortable.” Both office layouts received positive remarks for good eye contact with advisor and being able to see the computer.
Students noted in their comments that variables besides desk layout have a greater impact on collaboration and impression of the advisor.
Brown and Long (2006) agree with this belief noting that learning occurs everywhere, whether we arrange spaces or not, but deeper and richer learning occurs when the design encourages interactively (p. An example that illustrates this principle is an IUPUI project that designed new informal learning spaces in what has been a long corridor that had no purpose (Chism, 2006b).
Chism (2006b), stated that new learning environments demonstrate that not all learning takes place in classrooms, and that the establishment of places for collaboration, project work, or socialization can directly influence student success and persistence (p. Vaughn (1991), affirmed this saying, "Good rooms enable good teaching" (p.12).
Initial survey of academic advisors A literature search for physical environments that impact student learning uncovered articles on classroom and building spaces but none of the information needed to help academic advisors better structure their office spaces.
So, I designed a short survey for fellow advisors within the Office of Academic and Career Development (ACD) at IUPUI to gather advisor perceptions of their advising spaces.
Post-advising session survey protocol The post-advising survey was conducted immediately following the completion of the advising session; students placed completed surveys in an envelope labeled “Survey 2” before they left the advisor’s office.
In an attempt to screen out as many external variables as possible, six female advisors were carefully selected for this study based upon their current office layouts and advising experience.
Results found that advisors with office layout A (see Appendix A ) found it easier to work with students, thought they collaborated better with students, and were more aware of students’ body language.At the end of the survey students were made aware of a follow-up survey they would complete after their advising session; this survey would focus on the office environment not on the advisor or the content of the advising session.Students were told to be aware of their first impression of the office and to make a conscious note of the placement of their chair relative to the advisor.These variables include, but are not limited to, advisors greeting students in the lobby and walking them to their office, advisor expertise in advising techniques, advisor knowledge of campus information, and advisor ability to answer the questions brought by student.Discussion Results of this study were used to examine if office environments impact collaboration between advisors and their students.At least eighty percent of the students in both office layout groups noted that they frequently asked questions and collaborated with their advisors during their advising session.A few participants who met with an advisor in “Office A” would have preferred a desk between the advisor and themselves.Further Study Within a year of receiving results of the advisor survey I developed an IRB approved, pre- and post-advising survey for students to study students’ preferred office design.This environmental study observed two common desk layouts within universities nationwide, their impact on students’ first impression of the advisor, and the impact of the office layout on collaboration between students and their advisor (See Appendix A for layouts of office A and B).Pre-advising session Survey protocol The pre-advising survey focused on demographic information with a question asking participants to examine two photos and select the more approachable advisor.The same advisor was used in each picture, the advisor wore the same clothing and had the same position in regard to the camera; the desk layout was the only thing different.