The six schools of the Lab-École under the magnifying glass of researchers

Five years after the launch of the Lab-École idea in Quebec, researchers Jonathan Bluteau and Mélissa Goulet, both professors at UQAM's Faculty of Education, are preparing, with an impressive team, study the impact of this innovative project on educational success. 

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Five years after the launch of the idea of Lab-School in Quebec, researchers Jonathan Bluteau and Mélissa Goulet, both professors in the Faculty of Education at UQAM, are preparing, with an impressive team, to study the impact of this innovative project on educational success. 

Remember that the Lab-École was born under the impetus of three founding members, well known in Quebec, the architect Pierre Thibault, the athlete Pierre Lavoie and the chef Ricardo Larrivee. This non-profit organization, which has received support from the Quebec Ministry of Education (MEQ) for the construction of six new schools, intended to mobilize collective reflection to make it a social project, namely to create places that promote well-being of students and all those around them.

Next September, the inauguration of the first Lab-School in Quebec is planned in the heart of Quebec City, in the Limoilou district (La Cité-Limoilou borough) (see main image of this article: Lab-School Quebec, architectural design : Lab-School + ABCP architecture).

Then, starting in 2023, it will be the turn of the cities of Rimouski, Shefford, Maskinongé, Saguenay and Gatineau to inaugurate their new elementary school resulting from the Lab-École.

Lab-École Shefford, architectural design: Pelletier de Fontenay + Leclerc architects

As of now, it is planned that Jonathan Bluteau and his team will analyze certain data collected on the children of the 3e at the 6e year in Quebec even before they moved into their new neighborhood school. In a way, they take a photo "before the Lab-School", which could possibly serve as a comparison.

Researchers from many backgrounds

As soon as the Lab-School was set up and according to the plans of the MEQ, it was planned that university research would analyze its educational benefits. A competition was held last spring and the team of Professors Bluteau and Goulet won.

Jonathan bluteau
Credit: UQAM
Melissa Goulet
Credit: UQAM

With them, no less than a dozen academics will be there. Several are attached to UQAM, but some are attached to UQTR, Laval University, and even Cergy-Paris University, in France, and the University of Friborg, in Switzerland. These researchers, men and women, come from different backgrounds: psychoeducation, didactics, physical activity, school adaptation and psychology. They are joined by an educational adviser, Geneviève Marcoux, an architect, Martin Champagne, and a retired general manager, Michelle Fournier.

According to Jonathan Bluteau, “this is the first study of its kind in the world”. It will assess the impact of Lab-School on the well-being and psychological health of students and teachers.

Adjusting to a new vehicle

To talk about it, we met Professor Bluteau by videoconference. 

"In short, everyone is meeting to say if the Lab-School is positive? we asked. On the Zoom screen, eyebrows are furrowed. “Do we need to know if an electric car is positive? he replies. “The idea is not to know if the Lab-School is positive, it is obvious that designing the most beautiful schools, by architects and teachers, is. Rather, it is to see how to develop the skills of teachers, daycare educators and children in these new learning spaces. »

It should be understood that, in these new schools, there will no longer be any question of closed classes or corridors with lockers. Instead, we will find shared spaces, alcoves, work islands, small bleachers in the classrooms when the teaching is a little more masterful, outdoor gardens, innovative kitchens...

The work of Mr. Bluteau and his colleague Mélissa Goulet will therefore consist in studying various factors of the project, not only the places, but also the increase or not of physical activity or the psychological well-being of children, teachers and caregivers. We will assess, among other things, motivation, school engagement, stress, school problems related to mental health. Cameras will also be used by the researchers to record the interactions between the children.

This gigantic work should take four years, according to Jonathan Bluteau. While awaiting the results of the research, the two main researchers will explain their approach during a conference on February 24 at 4 p.m., which can be registered here.

"The interest of the child and the improvement of professional practice conditions, including the initial training of school workers, should be at the heart of every decision concerning the school, including those affecting interior and exterior architecture. “, recalls the site of the Lab-School. University research by Bluteau, Goulet et cie will be keen to verify this major objective of the Lab-École.

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About the Author

André Magny
For more than 30 years, André Magny has been going back and forth between journalism and teaching French to teenagers and adults alike. Freelance freelance writer for various media including Francopresse, he was also a cultural journalist at Law in Ottawa and in charge of new technologies at Soleil de Québec. He also did sports journalism in France. He has a weakness for the Francophonie, culture, sports, cuisine and politics.

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