English Ph.D. Dissertations


Becomings of Space and Collaboration: Applying Design Thinking to a Study of Space and Collaboration in the Collab Lab

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


English/Rhetoric and Writing

First Advisor

Sue Carter Wood (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Neil Baird (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Lee Nickoson (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Jerry Schnepp (Other)


Scholars such as Kenneth Bruffee, Jim Trimbur, Andrea Lunsford, Lisa Ede, and William Duffy have all argued that a key component of writing studies and writing pedagogy is collaboration. As such, Douglas Walls, Scott Schopieray, and Danielle DeVoss (2009) in Hacking Spaces note, “We [writing instructors] are keenly aware when space interferes with such collaboration” (p. 277). This dissertation explores the connection of space and collaboration in a space intentionally designed to foster collaboration. This study is situated in the Collab Lab, a newly built collaborative space located in Bowling Green State University’s library. I examine how collaboration is understood in the Collab Lab and what are the collaborative activities people are performing in the Lab. I also examine how the space affects the way people perform these collaborations and why people use the space in that way for their collaborations. To do this, I observed and mapped people in the Collab Lab. Additionally, I surveyed users in the space and conducted a loosely scripted interview with the director of the Lab. Design thinking methodology guided my methods of data collection and data analysis. My findings show that the flexibility of the Collab Lab accommodates a variety of kinds of collaboration and collaborative activities. The space promotes flexibility in its design, but in doing so, it is also fulfilling people’s wants and needs of the space then. The Lab is affecting the performance of collaboration with its focus on vertical working surfaces and openness, which promotes sharing and encourages people to be face-to-face.