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Instructors and students benefit from new active-learning classrooms

Instructors and students at Dey Hall and Phillips Hall are benefiting from two new active-learning classrooms outfitted with reconfigurable work surfaces and seating.




ITS Teaching & Learning and other University groups collaborated to convert Dey 205 and 207 into one larger, modern, flexible classroom that seats 25. It was completed in February 2018. In a similar project finished in May 2018, Phillips 273 and 275 were converted from old laboratory space — students had been sitting at 40-year-old laboratory benches — and combined into a single modern active-learning environment that seats 54.

The new combined room at Dey Hall — now designated as Dey 205 — marked 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. 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.

Dey Hall 205 and 207 were transformed into one modern learning space

The room also gained a larger screen, a new podium, new flooring, paint and lights. Also, the entire front wall was painted with a whiteboard paint application, giving more whiteboard space for instruction.

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. 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.

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 work spaces 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.”

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.

Women’s and Gender Studies had sought a more flexible learning space for Dey 205/207. The Physics & Astronomy Department and the Mathematics Department, meanwhile, cited a need for active-learning classrooms at Phillips for new curriculum.

Phillips 273 and 275 were converted from old laboratory space and combined into a single modern active-learning classroom

At the new Phillips 275, students can now work individually and in small groups at large, flexible round tables. Also, furniture in one corner of the room can be disassembled into separate seats with a whiteboard for mini-lectures. The new single room of Phillips 275 is designated as a general-purpose classroom, with Physics & Astronomy having priority scheduling, and Mathematics having second priority scheduling.

The work was completed by the Center for Faculty Excellence, Facilities Services, ITS Classroom Hotline, Whitlock, The Daniel Co. and Innovative Design.

Key Partner(s): Center for Faculty Excellence, Department of Romance Studies, Facilities Services, ITS Classroom Hotline, Innovative Design, Mathematics Department, Office of the University Registrar, Physics & Astronomy Department, The Daniel Co., Whitlock, Women’s and Gender Studies
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