SPaCE (Sensory Processing and Classroom Environments)

SPaCE (Sensory Processing and Classroom Environments) combines building assessment and pedagogic research to establish improved ‘inclusive learning spaces’ to improve the health and wellbeing of all students, including those with a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).

A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses. This creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks and impacts upon many aspects of life including motor clumsiness, behavioural problems, anxiety, depression and school/college/University performance.

Preliminary research has shown that this can affect the quality of the student experience and thereby their progression and retention. Whilst it is accepted that students with physical disabilities have specific environmental requirements and, where possible, reasonable adjustments are made, specific requirements for students with SPD are not normally considered at University.

Practitioner experience in other educational contexts suggests that the physical layout of a classroom may be adapted to maximise student participation and engagement, enabling all students to benefit from a non-traditional classroom layout, but no academic research exists.

The SPaCE methodology involves capture of data about the physical environment (lighting, temperature, air quality etc) simultaneously with the student experience in typical classrooms (through physical measurements, Sensory Profile questionnaires, observations, interviews and focus groups).

This multi-method data set will provide us with a better understanding of conditions and how they are experienced by students, and to identify areas for improvement, to be implemented in a campus demonstrator project. The aim of the project is to provide guidelines for improved teaching provision, in terms of sensory processing issues, for dissemination within the wider education sector.

For more information on SPaCe please contact:

Dr. Marie Bassford
Associate Professor in Physics
T: +44 (0)116 257 7055

Dr. Birgit Painter
Associate Professor in Smart Cities
T: +44 (0)116 250 7957

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