Narrative 5


Trickling Up: Perception versus Reality

Following a pilot project where we converted a single, fixed-seat tablet arm room with 120 seats into a 60-seat active learning flexible classroom in 2016, Jones returned to campus in 2018 to renovate the remaining classrooms. The post-occupancy interviews found that while everyone was very pleased with the pilot classroom, no one could not imagine taking the remaining rooms in Harvard Hall and shifting them to active learning — this would require cutting two, 50-seat rooms in half as well, and there was a strong perception that the single biggest need was for 50-seat classrooms.

Working with the building committee and the registrar, further analysis of classroom utilization showed that there was what we came to call a “trickle-up” effect. Classes of 8-12 were regularly getting placed in rooms with 50 seats because there was a deficit of seminar size rooms. Subsequently, larger classes could not find a right-sized room. Classes of 50 would get bumped to lecture halls intended for 100 or more, and so on. As a result, there was a perception that there was a deficit of large classrooms. By splitting the existing two 50 seat rooms into a pair of 12-seat seminar rooms and a pair of 24-seat active learning rooms, we relieved the pressure on these 50 seat rooms elsewhere on campus. The perception of a lack of larger classrooms was debunked through analysis.

You have ruined me for other classrooms on campus. The technology gives me great flexibility and control.”

ꟷ Faculty Member, Post-Occupancy Survey, Northeastern University