Classroom experience is an integral part of the learning process and can affect the overall academic success of a student. Higher education institutes across the nation are investing in renovations that improve various aspects of classroom and building design. Our WRX150 class had the privilege of analyzing one of Boston University’s more historic buildings on campus, The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). The CAS building has been a hallmark on BU’s campus and has produced many distinguished alumnus throughout the years. Though the CAS building has been able to stand the test of times, our class was looking into whether classroom space was effective in providing positive learning spaces for BU students. Working with the Registrar’s Office, we were tasked with looking at several rooms in particular: 222, 223, 314, 316, and 522. In an effort to quantify what students observed and felt about CAS classrooms, we developed and sent out a survey. The results proved interesting: technology, furniture design, lighting, and ventilation were common themes that students identified as affecting their learning the most. We hope that the results from the survey will be informative as we present our findings to the Registrar’s Office.
In addition to classrooms, hallway space has a significant impact on students’ CAS experience of the building. Many students feel that it is necessary to improve out-of-classroom study spaces. While the CAS building has benches along the hallways, many students still have no option but to sit on the floor when the hallways are crowded. Students suggested updating or adding more areas to study outside of classrooms. One student even suggested providing an online listing of when classrooms are unoccupied and free to be used as a study space. Another suggested renovating some classrooms and converting them to study lounges. Additionally, students requested more water fountains and power outlets as well as improved natural lighting.
When it comes to ventilation, most students feel that the CAS building has temperatures only at the extremes. Students commented that classrooms were either freezing or extremely hot, with not much middle ground. The majority of students who responded to our survey felt that the classrooms in CAS are too hot. The heating system warms the rooms too much, causing the rooms to feel stuffy for many students. This is especially the case for classrooms 222, 223, and 314. However, classroom 316 has is described as freezing by a good majority of students. Only in classroom 522 did the majority of students feel the ventilation and the temperature were perfect. This shows that the CAS building lacks consistency in the ventilation system as classrooms have a variety of temperatures.
Because of the age of the CAS building, its design is representative of the 1950s and therefore not ideal for the modern age we live in now. Many students believe that the CAS building looks like a high school, mostly because of the long hallways bordered by lockers. This design might have been acceptable for its first years of use, but students now believe the building is old and outdated. Some students also complained about the double doors between every section of the CAS building, because they are heavy and often end up hitting people on the rebound. In addition, the fifth floor of the CAS building has two different sides to it, and a lot of students get really confused trying to get to their classroom in the auditorium (Room 522). Some students suggested adding more signs to direct students correctly. These issues, and others that were highlighted through our student survey, are explained further in the graphs below.
How often do students attend CAS classes?
Most of the students we interviewed attended classes in CAS five days a week, which suggests that the interviewed individuals had a lot of experience with the classroom spaces in the CAS building.
How do students usually spend their time in between classes?
While the activities students did in between classes varied, we found that the majority of them spent their breaks doing homework or preparing for their next class. Using technology–such as a phone or computer–and eating were very common activities among the students as well.
Where do students usually spend their spare time in between classes?
We received a variety of answers. Most students waited for their next class in the hallways or on the benches available in the CAS building. Many students said if they were to eat within the CAS building, they would prefer eating at Einstein Bagels in the basement of CAS or they may go outside to a nearby Starbucks as well.
How do students feel about the classroom spaces in CAS?
Students were also asked about their genuine opinions on their classroom spaces. While a few thought that the spaces were too small and crowded, the majority of the respondents were divided between getting an old, run-down, and high-school-like feeling in the space and deeming the space adequate.
Do students have a preference for a certain classroom?
Students were also asked about certain classroom preferences. The answers once again were divided; however, this time students either had no preference for a certain CAS classroom, or they prefered large lecture halls within the building, such as CAS 522 or STO B50.
Do students have any suggestions for improvements within the CAS building?
We have summarized four big categories of the suggestions for improvement: modernize the old facilities; more comfortable seats and tables; control climate within individual classrooms and renovation of restrooms.
Conducting interviews in the CAS building offers each member of our group a way to contribute to our research project. This data, although helpful, is broad. For this reason, we are following up with the students we interviewed who indicated a willingness to partake in a video or audio interview at a later date to gather more information on their thoughts on the CAS building and any suggestions they may have for improvements.