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As a teacher, you may find yourself in a space that has been designed specifically for your field of study. Labs, studios, and even conference rooms can all simulate the experience of being a practitioner of one’s field. When teaching in these spaces, imagine how spaces facilitate thinking, learning, and action, and most importantly, how these spaces can help students take on an identity as a future professional. In other words, by being in a professional space and doing professional work, students can more effectively engage in the thinking and learning of professionals in their field.

Not all disciplinary learning spaces are classroom spaces, or even located on campus. Taking field trips, participating in service learning, and studying abroad all allow teachers and students to learn and collaborate in spaces that reflect the knowledge and practices of their discipline. It is important to think critically about how any learning space can support your teaching and your students’ learning. If you find yourself in a disciplinary learning space, you can support student learning and identity formation by identifying what features can be used to mimic professional practices or ways of thinking and building them into a backwardly-designed curriculum.

Some schools such as the University of Auckland are developing multidisciplinary learning spaces, and many schools have adopted the SCALE-UP model to fit disciplinary learning.

For helpful tips on teaching in labs, see Stanford’s guide to laboratory teaching. If you are interested in teaching in a studio environment, Carnegie Mellon has an excellent guide.

The Office of Experiential Learning provides excellent resources on involving students in professional learning opportunities.

You can learn more about disciplinary learning spaces here: https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/teaching-outside-the-classroom/