Narrative 11

Density differs according to teaching modes fixed seat with tablet arms, fixed table with loose seats (straight), fixed table with loose seats (curved), fixed table with loose seats (horseshoe), loose tables and chairs, loose tablet-armchairs, and on and on.

Renovations that shift seat type from more dense models of fixed seating to more adaptable models of flexible seating ensure that the resultant decrease in seating count aligns with the needs of the institution more broadly. While faculty may clamor for more active learning classrooms that necessitate flexible spaces, the registrar, provost, and administration may have their eye on total seat count in classrooms. This can create a tension between registrar needs for denser, fixed, higher-seat count rooms, and faculty needs for flexible rooms that necessitate lower-seat counts. Balancing that tension over the entire portfolio of classrooms should be seen as an opportunity.

Creating a prototype classroom is a low-cost way to evaluate needs and efficacy before making a major investment in classroom changes we often develop a pilot classroom that faculty can use for a semester or more before engaging in a major capital project. This low-risk venture serves to align the institution’s expectations across many stakeholders, evaluate new technologies, give furniture a test drive, and generally work out the kinks of a new kind of space. Gathering the feedback from the many constituents that use these rooms — faculty, teaching assistants, students, staff, IT and AV personnel— during a trial period is critical. We recommend hosting lunchbox sessions in the actual room to discuss the pros and cons in person, and in situ.