Moving from pedagogical challenge to ergonomic challenge: Translating epistemology into the built environment for learning

Pippa Yeoman, Nathan Ashmore


In response to an acknowledged gap in the literature – concerning a lack of actionable knowledge about the relations between the designed environment and learning activity – we make a case for moving the field forward by reframing pedagogical challenges in ergonomic terms in order to reach satisfactory epistemic resolutions. This article reflects a time-honoured way of learning through apprenticeship and was produced through the collaborative efforts of an educational researcher and a specialist in audiovisual design. Drawing on our recent participation in the redevelopment of university teaching facilities, this case study explores how educational design ideas persist over the duration of large infrastructure developments. This article offers an overview of the 16-month design process, followed by a reframing of the underlying pedagogical challenges using the activity centred analysis and design framework (Goodyear & Carvalho, 2014), an analysis of the ergonomic solution presented in the final project documents, and a discussion of the epistemic resolution of two particularly demanding design challenges. It makes a theoretical contribution using the notion of epistemic apprenticeship to explore how educational design teams innovate in the absence of pedagogical evidence, and a methodological contribution that builds on analysis to connect epistemic intentions and pedagogical practice over time.


learning spaces; sociomaterial studies of learning; design research

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