Prior to conducting the research, the WR150XC2 class spent time looking at examples of how research should be conducted. After the completion of this initial learning process, students obtained permission from the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) program to go ahead with our own research. Not only did this provide us with guidelines to follow when conducting research, but it also taught us how to handle studies dealing with human subjects. Next, we researched and reviewed literature that were already in place to find out what other studies had discovered previously on topics regarding classroom design and learning. Shortly after, the class looked at the consultant’s review report done on the CAS building. Lastly, we formulated specific research questions so that we could direct our data towards supporting a specific finding.
For the research aspect of our project, we broke into groups, and each group had a different task to work on. The student survey group put together a questionnaire, which was sent out to the student body after many careful revisions. This questionnaire asked students about their in and out of classroom habits, their experience in certain classroom spaces, and ways the CAS building could be improved. During one of our classes, the WRX150C2 class also visited the CAS building to conduct interviews there, and ask the students personally about their opinions and suggestions. Some of these interviews were also videotaped or recorded to be used later as a source in our presentation. While a portion of the class conducted the student interviews, another portion took pictures of the design and the structure of the building. The faculty survey group has also put together an array of questions that explored the different opinions of the faculty teaching in the CAS building. This survey also went through many revisions to confirm that the content best matched our research interest. Besides these elements of our research, each member of the class also participated in one or two in-class observations in the classrooms that the Registrar had an interest in, and observed the way the different classes utilized the classroom space. Another group focused on exploring the website and ways we can formally organize our information and data for the final presentation to have a cohesive, academic presentation.
With all the information we collected, we needed to analyze and decide on how to present it. Each method of data collection presented us with specific questions about presentation of information. As a majority of the students in our class voted for the website as our final presentation form, we are preparing to create a website to exhibit our research process and results of the project. The reason we chose to create a website is partly because technology and multimedia are inseparable from our lives. The website makes our research project more available to the audience we intended to serve. Although we have made many decisions collectively, we tried to be more efficient with producing information for the presentation and website by allocating tasks to different groups. These groups had tasks such as writing up sections for the website; checking citations for consistency; working on the design of the website; and analyzing and formatting the research results. Different students contributed to the groups based on their interests and special skills. We also planned to conduct a presentation in class which would appear as a PowerPoint. This would be a quick review of our research process and an opportunity to get feedback from the Registrar’s Office.
Summary of the Consultant’s Report
In 2011, Boston University employed Rickes Associates to review the condition and configuration of the classrooms on campus, analyze the technology available, and examine the process of scheduling and the use of spaces throughout campus. Their findings were compiled in a report entitled Boston University Strategic Classroom Study and Implementation Plan.
Data presented from this report was collected from various means, including surveys and interviews of faculty and students at BU, both in formal write-ups and graphical representations. The data is mainly divided into three categories: instructional technology, classroom use (managed by the Registrar’s Office) and physical classrooms (managed by Facilities). The findings in each category are analyzed, suggesting further improvements.
This report became the foundation of our study as we sought to analyze classroom spaces and mobility around BU’s campus, specifically the College of Arts and Sciences building at 725 Commonwealth Avenue. Our class used this report as a guide to what aspects of classroom spaces we should investigate and what questions we wanted to answer through our study. Using this information, we were able to formulate survey questions to gather our own data on the topic.