“PAI” High-School Education System Reform Project 

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1: Where Is the Goal?



Designing a human centered learning environment to achieve PAI’s (Philadelphia Academies, Inc.) goal is the aspect that our studio needs to be involved. We not only need to set up a series of workshop with designated high schools to recognize what hinders learning effectiveness but also we are required to present our findings to one architecture company who cooperates with our project sponsor, Comcast Corporation. The latter will consider our works as the design principle integrating into new classroom construction blueprint. This is a great opportunity to verify our service values; at the meanwhile, there will be an unprecedented challenge when we are facing and coordinating with multiple stakeholders at one time. 


Abraham Lincoln High School in Northeast Philadelphia region is our team’s target. We have 8 weeks to work with these high school students and faculty and deliver the insights. Our original schedule is arranging 4 to 5 times workshops to get the answer. 

The stakeholder map shows our studio as the research group facing to multiple influences.

2.1: How to Icebreak?



At the first time meeting, we brought a giant roll of paper fully filled with pictures that showed variety of living environments. Students had 8 minutes to like or dislike the content of pictures by using color coded stickers, and then chatted with each other about those were most voted. As the part of icebreaker, they were also encouraged to share every scene in school and leave comments on social media platform. We synthesize these feedbacks and realize even they do have some opinions about what are missing or what they want in school, there is a deeper problem neutralizing students’ learning passion. Thus, we wonder what is happening during a typical one day of these students?

2.2: What's the Problem?



We prepared a sheet of table, called the “Journey Running Map,” for the next workshop to collect this information. Participants were required to map out their daily course schedule in terms of mood and focus changing in each period. To learn these details can help us understand what lowers study efficiency. For example, we notice some of the students are really like taking the biology class, but they want to study subjects in small group form so they could have more chance to operate experiment.

2.3: Get Ready for the Answers!

Verifying our findings is also necessary before we start providing a solution. We wrote down these findings on the back side of the subject name card and asked students to guess in which class the issue we were describing. 

In the final workshop, we decide to utilize the idea of participant design to establish a desktop game, for guiding students to design a new spatial arrangement that is helpful for their study.

Following the questions, students use a desktop game to create space arrangement. 

This game includes a package of different shape colorful papers and a blank round pad that represents a hypothetical learning space. The colorful shapes supplemented with words stickers provide semantic meaning that students can understand and utilize. Based on the problem we have identified, players have 15 minutes to propose their solutions.


The conclusion of this research is that students need flexible arrangement in the classroom to suit variable course requirements. We also presented it to their teachers to help them understand how the arrangement difference would impact the learning process.

3: Explore Tools' Value



A box of research tools, meanwhile, are extracted from this project. We hope our process can be duplicated and flexible enough to fit other similar missions. It has three modules:


The first one includes several pieces of rope with hanging hooks. Researcher hangs up inspiring materials for discussion and opens up opportunities for next step. The second one, called “Journey Map,” discovers one’s experiential path to better understand ins and outs of the process, and evaluates it according to two related values. The third one is the desktop game we just mentioned. Players create an arrangement of shapes and words, visualizes spatial or non-spacial flows in order to better grasp the whole running system.

Each package contains one research tool. Users can group them based on purpose.

We also provide instructors. They are all wrapped up in one big box for delivery. 

Senior teenagers spend most of the time studying in the high-school campus. Now there is a new perspective that cleverly helps them learn more from teachers' classes.