University of Wisconsin–Madison

Designing learning spaces that transform, inspire

As we embark on this project, OPN and The S/L/A/M Collaborative are thrilled to be leveraging our combined experience designing  highly sophisticated medical research facilities for other recognized colleges and universities to the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health to develop innovative enhancement solutions to your research campus.

It’s an exciting time for the Health Science Learning Center. The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health is in the process of significantly changing medical student curriculum.  A four-year integration of basic, public health and clinical sciences will emphasize continuing competency development and tight alignment between three newly designed phases of education.  The Liason Committee on Medical Education (LCME), which accredits medical education programs leading to the MD degree in the United States and Canada, will make a survey site visit in April 2018 following the curriculum changes.  The building improvements provided under this project are required to support the new curriculum and accreditation site visit.

Our approach to your project is informed by a planning and design philosophy that will benefit the alignment of the new curriculum and the space in which the curriculum will take place.

Curriculum Alignment

A deeper understanding of how adults learn has resulted in dramatic changes to the educational process. This is especially true in the health professions where enhanced learning outcomes are achieved when students have an opportunity to participate in self-directed learning, are responsible for making decisions, are able to draw on their life experiences, and are able to practice what they are learning. These principles are finding their way into redesigned curriculum and the design of instructional spaces that allow for innovative delivery of course content. Methodologies like problem-based (PBL), team-based (TBL) and simulation-based (SBL) learning support inter-professional collaboration and active learning in very different environments requiring educational space to be thought of as a system of diverse and complementary learning spaces rather than a number of rooms. SLAM’s passion for the learning process drives our success in working with health professions educators to develop highly effective learning environments that enable revolutionary changes in curriculum.

Integrating Clinical Experiences with the School of Medicine and Public Health

Clinical training is a fundamental part of the School of Medicine and Public Health education and critical to producing competent health professionals.  Health professions students know this and are eager to interact with patients the day they first don their white coats.  Historically clinical experiences needed to be deferred until students could acquire the minimum level of knowledge and skills needed to keep real patients safe. The development of simulated clinical experiences has changed all of that and is changing how we educate and evaluate students and inter-professional teams. Your project creates the opportunity to assess your current simulation resources and enhance them as part of a new learning environment. SLAM’s understanding of simulation center design has guided our work at some of the nation’s leading institutions who looked for their facilities to support transformative change.

Enhancing the User Experience

Learning does not stop at the classroom door and opportunities for your school’s learning environment to foster a caring community of scholars are abundant. For professional schools the need for living space, including touch down/break-out spaces, study space, and access to food is heightened by the reality that students spend many days in the same building with the same classmates over a period of 2-4 years. The opportunity for UW to build life-long relationships with these future alumni cannot be ignored. The quantity of living space provided is driven by a combination of building population, number of instructional seats and location of the facility. From a functional perspective living space is the most flexible of the functional program requirements so there is not a definitive answer to the question “how much is just enough?” We can, however, offer guidelines based on recent projects, independent research and benchmarking analysis.