Most research on student engagement focuses on policies, programs, and practices. In contrast, this initiative, “The Engaging Campus,” investigated what makes Texas Tech special and how the university can use the physical environment of the campus—the shared spaces that exist outside the classrooms, offices, and research labs—to better engage students, faculty, and staff. This will facilitate the university in the recruitment and retention of students through their “feeling of connection” to the institution.
In June of 2008, Texas Tech University undertook a three-day series of meetings to discuss what they believe makes Texas Tech unique and how to best use its qualities to foster an engaging physical environment. This study, led by Michael D. Shonrock, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management for Texas Tech, involved more than 110 students, faculty, staff, administrators, parents, and City of Lubbock employees in 14 sessions.
The work sessions solicited and documented ideas on note cards and on campus plans for both interior and exterior shared spaces and identified areas for improvements to foster student engagement. Images courtesy Robert Sabatini, ASLA.
The study identified opportunities to increase student engagement through physical planning and design. Participants identified areas of the campus that were exemplary in the opportunities they offered for student engagement and contrasted these with areas that did not offer such opportunities but had great potential to do so.
This initiative will help frame discussions as the university moves forward in addressing future growth and improvements to its physical environment.
For more information see the full report, "The Engaging Campus," prepared for Texas Tech University by Robert Sabbatini, with consultant Parkhill, Smith, and Cooper.
Robert Sabbatini, ASLA, is a planner, landscape architect, and urban designer, and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org