Since February, instructors and students at Dey Hall have benefited from a new active-learning classroom created with a seldom-used approach to renovation.
ITS Teaching & Learning and other University groups collaborated to convert Dey 205 and 207 into one larger, modern, flexible classroom that seats 25.
A similar project in Phillips Hall may be completed in time for Summer School courses.
The new combined room at Dey Hall — now designated as Dey 205 — also marks one of the first times a general-purpose classroom has been outfitted with smaller mobile tables and chairs to create a more flexible learning environment. The small two-person tables are much easier to move and reconfigure than the larger six-to-nine person tables being used in other active-learning classrooms.
Teaching & Learning worked on the project, which started in November 2017, with the Center for Faculty Excellence, Women’s and Gender Studies, the Department of Romance Studies, Facilities Services, and the Office of the University Registrar.
Instructional priorities drove decisions
Creating larger classrooms via wall removal and renovation was one of the strategies suggested by Ayers Saint Gross, the external consultant working with the University on its overall space planning, said Bob Henshaw, ITS Liaison to the Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE).
After Women’s and Genders Studies expressed interest in a more flexible learning space in an annual report a couple of years ago, it was added to a list of active-learning classroom priorities.
“We (CFE, Hotline and Facilities) invited a team of faculty members from the department to visit the space in Dey,” said Henshaw. “We began by discussing the instructional methods they planned to use in the space. Their instructional priorities drove decisions about technology, furniture, and floor and wall treatments.”
Rooms had been underutilized
Prior to the renovation, Dey 205 and 207 each seated 15 students around a series of large tables put together to form one large seminar-style table. The rooms had historically been underutilized in the number of classes scheduled per week, said Gina Bradford, ITS Classroom Hotline Manager within Teaching & Learning.
“After determining that the wall between the two rooms was not load bearing, the idea of having one larger room seemed to give us more possibilities,” Bradford said. “The new combined room now seats 25. We were able to reuse most of the technology already installed in the two older rooms. We added a larger screen, a new podium, movable, flexible seating, and new flooring, paint and lights. Also, the entire front wall was painted with a whiteboard paint application, giving more whiteboard space for instruction.”
Dey 205 is ‘ideal’ for student-centered approach
Classes were moved into the room as soon as it opened, several weeks after the current Spring semester began.
The Women’s and Gender Studies program has scheduling priority in the room, then Romance Studies and the Registrar’s Scheduling Office can fill in classes as needed. “So all instructors and students benefit from this new active-learning classroom,” Bradford said.
Romance Studies is making the most use of the classroom this semester.
The new Dey Hall 205 “is the ideal classroom for our student-centered approach to teaching,” said Glynis Cowell, Director of Undergraduate Studies and of Spanish Language Instruction within the Department of Romance Studies. She holds a doctorate in curriculum and instruction. “The desks and chairs can be quickly and noiselessly moved and reconfigured from individual workspaces to any size group table, allowing instructors to easily transition from whole-class activities to group activities to pair work. The writable walls are great for working through exercises as well as displaying responses to share.”