Community Space Design in Higher Education

Effective design of community spaces is an integral part of the educational experience in higher education. However, spaces are often designed without a clear understanding of what students need in a space and how it affects their experience. Utilizing qualitative methods consisting of semi-structured interviews and a demographic questionnaire, the impact of community space design on the student experience was explored. The study included seven participants who were current students at a public, four-year, commuter campus in Southern California. Data were analyzed by engaging in open and axial coding to identify emerging themes across the interviews. The findings affirmed that students have a better experience in and prefer community spaces that provide a variety of comfortable seating options that are easily moveable. The overall condition of the space is also important including well-maintained and regularly cleaned furniture and spaces. Findings suggested that students used community spaces for a variety of reasons including to study, meet with classmates, socialize with friends, relax, and to eat, to name a few. Most importantly, students wanted spaces that make them feel safe to perform the previously mentioned tasks.