Many universities in the United States are investing in classrooms and campuses designed to increase collaboration and teamwork among the health professions. To date, we know little about whether these learning spaces are having the intended impact on student performance. Recent advances in the identification of interprofessional teamwork competencies provide a much-needed step toward a defined outcome metric. Rigorous study of the relationship between design and student competence in collaboration also requires clear specification of design concepts and development of testable frameworks. Such theory-based evaluation is crucial for design to become an integral part of interprofessional education strategies and initiatives. Current classroom and campus designs were analyzed for common themes and features in collaborative spaces as a starting place for specification of design concepts and model development. Four major themes were identified: flexibility, visual transparency/proximity, technology and environmental infrastructure. Potential models linking this preliminary set of design concepts to student competencies are proposed and used to generate hypotheses for future study of the impact of collaborative design spaces on student outcomes.
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