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Classrooms: New Tools for Managing a Neglected Resource. Presenters. Tom Hier B IDDISON H IER, L TD. Consultants to Higher Education. Margaret Dyer-Chamberlain S TANFORD U NIVERSITY. 20 July 2004 SCUP-39 Annual Conference Toronto, Ontario. Today’s Topics.

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classrooms new tools for managing a neglected resource

Classrooms:New Tools for Managing a Neglected Resource


Tom Hier


Consultants to Higher Education

Margaret Dyer-Chamberlain


20 July 2004

SCUP-39 Annual Conference

Toronto, Ontario

today s topics
Today’s Topics
  • Why is classroom planning important?
  • What is a Classroom Management Plan (CMP)?
  • Case Studies
    • Dartmouth College
    • Stanford University

Classroom instruction is a critical aspect of an institution’s mission. Yet classrooms, with no natural advocate, are among the most neglected spaces on campus.

4 reasons why classroom planning is important
4 ReasonsWhy Classroom Planning is Important


Budget Cutting Environment

  • In a budget reduction environment, administrators are pressured to cut costs and improve productivity.


Underperforming Assets Create Opportunities for Improvement

  • Classrooms are in some ways “low hanging fruit.”There are relatively easy and significant opportunities to get more productive use out of existing classrooms through better policies and management of classroom resources.


Capital Cost Avoidance

  • Often targeted investment in existing facilities can yield great benefits, while minimizing or avoiding the need to build expensive new facilities.


Imperfect Information

  • Planners are typically on the front-line in planning classroom space, often with little or no accurate measure of the true need. Classroom planning provides hard, quantifiable data on need.
classroom management plan defined




Operations / Management



What is a Classroom Management Plan?

“Classroom Management Plan” Defined

Definition: A roadmap that identifies realistic, implementable solutions to the physical, pedagogical, scheduling, technology, operational and funding issues that have historically challenged good management of classroom resources

  • Need to refurbish and modernize antiquated classrooms
  • Ad hoc approaches to determining need for and mix of instructional media
  • Inadequate mix of classroom types to support existing and emerging pedagogies
  • Decentralized control and authority for classroom scheduling, planning and operations
  • Lack of adequate funding for even basic classroom maintenance and upgrades (furnishings, technology, etc.)
  • Perceived large supply of rooms but space unavailable when and where needed
developing a classroom management plan

What is a Classroom Management Plan?

Developing a Classroom Management Plan
  • Classroom Analysis and Modeling
    • Quantitative Profile
    • Review of Qualitative Factors
    • Productivity Measures
    • Applying the Classroom “Fix-It” Tool Kit
  • Outcomes: The Roadmap
classroom analysis and modeling

What is a Classroom Management Plan?

Classroom Analysis and Modeling


  • Illustrates adequacy of the existing inventory
classroom analysis and modeling1

What is a Classroom Management Plan?

Classroom Analysis and Modeling


Physical Conditions

Pedagogical Requirements

Geographical Considerations

Ownership & Management

classroom analysis and modeling2

What is a Classroom Management Plan?

Classroom Analysis and Modeling


  • Room utilization by
    • Time of day
    • Campus area
    • Room size
    • Scheduler
  • Seat utilization
    • By room
    • Migration patterns

Seat Migration Patterns

classroom analysis and modeling3

Management Policies

Utilization Targets

Scheduling Changes

Physical Changes

What is a Classroom Management Plan?

Classroom Analysis and Modeling


  • Renovation and reconfiguration
  • Refurnishing
  • Equipment upgrades
  • Adherence to standard scheduling blocks
  • Pre-enrollment planning
  • Policies re: peak vs. non-peak hour scheduling
  • Room utilization
  • Seat utilization
  • Classroom “ownership”
  • Organizational structure
  • Budgeting and funding

What is a Classroom Management Plan?



  • The “optimal”classroom inventory: how many and of what sizes
  • Upgrades in quality through:
    • Modernization of furnishings and fixtures
    • Classroom reconfigurations
  • Scheduling policies that facilitate better use of classrooms
  • Technology plan
    • Baseline requirements
    • Distribution campus-wide
    • Refresh rates
  • Changes in organizational structure and management policies required to maximize efficient use of classroom resources consistent with the institutional culture and preferred pedagogies
  • Capital investments and phasing / funding plan required to support the implementation of the plan
alignment of supply and demand

Dartmouth College: Existing Conditions

Alignment of Supply and Demand

Overall, Dartmouth’s room inventory is aligned with demand.

At each room size, there are a greater number of hours available for scheduling than there are courses.

room utilization by time of day

Dartmouth College: Existing Conditions

Room Utilization: By Time of Day

Rooms are scheduled using about 42% of available hours from 9am to 5pm.

Peak usage (55%) occurs between the hours of 10am and 1pm.

room utilization by room size

Dartmouth College: Existing Conditions

Room Utilization: by Room Size

Room sizes in greatest demand are:

  • 11 to 21 seats
  • 22 to 49 seats

Together, they comprise the bulk of the inventory (73%) and house most of the courses (76%)

seat utilization

Dartmouth College: Existing Conditions

Seat Utilization

Seat utilization for the classroom inventory as a whole is 50% -- that is, about ½ the seats in a room are filled on average.

The room size with the highest seat utilization is the 11 to 21 seat range

case study dartmouth college1

Case Study: Dartmouth College

  • Existing Conditions
  • Key Issues
registrar vs departmental scheduling

Dartmouth College: Key Issues

Registrar vs. Departmental Scheduling

3 Key Findings


  • The Registrar schedules only 59% of rooms, but must place 80% of all courses in these rooms.
  • The remaining 41% of rooms are scheduled by departments.


  • In the room sizes in greatest demand -- under 21 seats -- about 2/3 (65%) of rooms are scheduled by departments.
registrar vs departmental scheduling1

Dartmouth College: Key Issues

Registrar vs. Departmental Scheduling


  • Generally, Registrar-scheduled classrooms are used more intensively than departmentally-scheduled classrooms.
    • On average, the Registrar schedules 7.71 course events (‘X’ hours are counted separately from course hours) per classroom.
    • Departments schedule, on average, 4.29 courses per classroom.
    • The difference in room use is a factor of almost 2.
geographic accommodation

Dartmouth College: Key Issues


Dartmouth historically has provided a high degree of accommodation to its departments in scheduling courses.

The campus is partitioned into 49 zones for scheduling purposes. 30 of these zones are dedicated to accommodating departmental room preferences.

22 of these 30 partitions have only 1 or 2 rooms.

Actual average seat utilization at 50% reflects the high degree of geographic accommodation.

As a reference point, if scheduling were done without regard to geography, average seat utilization could be as high as 88%.



dartmouth culture

Dartmouth College: Key Issues

Dartmouth Culture
  • Dartmouth’s ability to make full use of its scheduling day is affected by certain cultural factors.
    • Difficulty of subscribing 8am courses
    • Students’ afternoon commitments for athletic / extra-curricular programs
    • Departments’ natural instinct to want to teach in rooms that they have “fitted” to their uses because they work
  • Dartmouth also has an “X” hour associated with each time block; scheduling the “X” hour is at the faculty’s discretion.
    • 69% use the “X” hour less than 40% of the term. 22% use it 5% to 10%
inadequate room features

Dartmouth College: Key Issues

Inadequate Room Features
  • For modern pedagogies, technology and other room features are as important as the room capacity itself. Rooms that lack appropriate fit-out may be underutilized even where seating capacity is adequate.
    • Current classrooms are “conservative and outdated.” Some arranged like “aircraft carriers.”
    • Preferred furnishing layouts (movable tables and chairs and seminar spaces) are also in relatively short supply; for pedagogies requiring flexible room furnishings, fixed seating makes a room unusable.
    • Only 20% to 60% of rooms have the equipment in greatest demand permanently installed.
match of seat capacities to room sizes

Dartmouth College: Key Issues

Match ofSeat Capacities to Room Sizes
  • Although inventory in “high demand” room sizes (11 to 21 and 22 to 49 seats) is adequate, physical inspection of these rooms revealed overcrowding in some rooms – too many seats to fit comfortably based on the rooms’ square footage and layout

Rooms ->

Room Size 11 to 21

Size 22 to 49

diffused organization

Dartmouth College: Key Issues

Diffused Organization
  • KEY FINDING: Many interests represent various aspects of classrooms but no one entity represents Dartmouth’s institutional interests with respect to classrooms
    • Quantity of classrooms, in total or by area of campus, can expand or contract without explicit review process
      • Capital planning process for a building does not necessarily include an explicit representative for classrooms
      • Depending on funding sources for new construction, replacement classrooms may become controlled by department rather than Registrar
      • In renovation, classrooms may become converted to faculty offices or other uses
    • Absence of specific control has led to creation of various ad hoc committees to manage on an issue-by-issue basis:
      • Resource25 Group
      • Classroom Committee
      • Classroom Working Group
      • Scheduling committees
recap of key issues



Dartmouth College: Key Issues

Recap of Key Issues

1 Registrar vs. departmental scheduling

  • Results in disproportionately more intensive use of Registrar’s inventory

2 Geographic accommodation

  • Results in low and widely varying seat utilization

3 Culture / Length of scheduling day

  • Policy decisions about scheduling day determine size of the inventory

4 Inadequate room features

  • Limits the ability to schedule existing rooms that are otherwise adequate (in size, location, etc.)

5 Match of seat capacities to room sizes

  • While distribution by size is adequate, “over-furnishing” rooms to meet demand for popular sizes creates uncomfortable learning environments

6 Diffused organization

  • Makes it nearly impossible to plan for all aspects of classroom scheduling and management in a coherent way
case study dartmouth college2

Case Study: Dartmouth College

  • Existing Conditions
  • Key Issues
  • Recommendations and Solutions
recommendations and solutions

Dartmouth College: Recommendations and Solutions

Recommendations and Solutions
  • Appoint a Classroom Manager
  • Reduce departmental “ownership” of classrooms in favor of a system that gives departments scheduling priority in their preferred geographic locations / room(s)
  • Adopt software for modeling and potentially scheduling
  • Adopt baseline standards that shall apply to all Dartmouth classrooms
  • “Rightsize” classroom inventory
  • Allocate sufficient capital funding over the next 5 years to bring classrooms to recommended standards
1 appoint a classroom manager

Dartmouth College: Recommendations and Solutions

1 Appoint a Classroom Manager
  • The Concept
    • “Classroom Manager” is an emerging administrative concept
    • Developed as a way to manage the classroom resource
    • In place at Stanford, Princeton, University of Minnesota
  • Rationale
    • Management and operation of classrooms involves multiple entities (administrative / academic offices, ad hoc committees) on campus, with few formalized procedures to guide functional relationships; leads to problems of coordination, quality, competitiveness, etc.
  • Responsibilities
    • Classroom Manager has the authority and responsibility to set classroom management policies, procedures and standards and to represent Dartmouth College’s interests in classrooms
    • Classroom Manager’s primary responsibilities are strategic management and coordination of activities that affect classrooms, e.g.:
      • Determine funding requirements
      • Design and implement classroom policies
      • Coordinate scheduling and management of space
      • Coordinate classroom improvement and construction projects
      • Approve changes to classroom use
proposed functional relationships

Dartmouth College: Recommendations and Solutions

Proposed Functional Relationships

Classroom Manager

  • Management
  • Funding and budgeting
  • Policy setting
  • Coordination

Coordination Function




Capital Projects

  • Registrar
  • Departments
  • Conference & Events
  • INSV
  • Classroom Committee
  • Administrative Computing
  • Academic Computing
  • FO&M
  • Facilities Planning
  • FO&M
  • INSV
  • Registrar
  • Departments
2 reduce departmental ownership

Dartmouth College: Recommendations and Solutions

2 Reduce Departmental Ownership

Reduce departmental “ownership” of classrooms in favor of a system that gives departments scheduling priority in their preferred geographic location / room(s)

  • Institutional interests are best served if classrooms are constructed, scheduled, equipped and maintained in the context of the classroom inventory as a whole (e.g., size, mix, equipment, etc.)
    • Reduces the need to duplicate costly resources that can be shared
    • Minimizes the inequities between departmental “haves” and “have nots”
  • Dartmouth has a history of localized proximity to classrooms – a tradition that provides opportunities to build community around academic endeavors (classrooms proximate to faculty offices, sense of departmental identity for both students and faculty)
  • Implications:
    • Supporting this tradition requires some “overage” in the inventory
    • Leads to low overall seat utilization and widely varying seat utilization by campus zone
2 reduce departmental ownership1

Dartmouth College: Recommendations and Solutions

2 Reduce Departmental Ownership


  • OPTION 1:Adopt a “zone and room feature” scheduling protocol and gradually reduce the number of “micro-zones” (i.e., with 1 to 2 rooms) over time
    • Allow departments to specify geographic and room feature preferences; software schedules according to an “optimizing algorithm”
  • OPTION 2: Adopt a “room preference /distributed day” scheduling protocol
    • Allow departments latitude to identify preferred rooms, but require that scheduling be distributed more evenly throughout day (i.e., beyond “prime time”)
    • In general, Dartmouth has adequate capacity for departments to have a high degree of choice in selecting rooms if non-peak hours are scheduled more intensively
3 adopt scheduling modeling software

Dartmouth College: Recommendations and Solutions

3 Adopt Scheduling / Modeling Software

Adopt software to assist Dartmouth in modeling utilization on an ongoing basis. Consider use of software for scheduling purposes as well.

  • Rationale:
    • Ongoing modeling permits Dartmouth to monitor room utilization and identify opportunities to improve use of classroom resources
    • Modeling also enables Dartmouth to assess the impact of changes resulting from this study (implementation of policies, temporary removal of rooms for renovation, etc.).
4 adopt baseline standards for all classrooms

Dartmouth College: Recommendations and Solutions

4 Adopt Baseline Standards for all Classrooms

Adopt standards whereby all classrooms meet a base quality level that ensures that all Dartmouth College students have reasonably equal classroom experiences

  • Rationale
    • Eliminates inequities among classrooms
    • Improves learning environment and competitive position of Dartmouth by upgrading lighting, room comfort, technology, seating, other furnishings and equipment
    • Achieves economies in procurement and maintenance of classrooms
    • Standards ensure reasonable match of seat capacity to room size, regardless of configuration, and remedies current condition of overcrowding in some rooms
    • Furnishings can be matched to room type and pedagogy based on seat count per space standards
proposed space standards

Dartmouth College: Recommendations and Solutions

Proposed Space Standards



  • Technology replacement cycles should be adopted for all new construction and renovation projects, e.g.:
    • 3 year cycle: computers
    • 4 year cycle: computer displays, data / video projection systems
    • 8 to 10 year cycle: AV equipment
  • Emphasize “user-friendliness” and ease of use, e.g.:
    • Standard controls
    • Dimmable lighting
    • Placement of screens vs. blackboards
5 rightsize classroom inventory

Dartmouth College: Recommendations and Solutions

5 “Rightsize” Classroom Inventory

Rightsize the inventory to adhere more closely to the proposed space standards

  • Rationale
    • Improves the quality of the classroom experience
    • Shifts inventory out of larger capacities into smaller capacities where there is greater demand

21 rooms are rightsized

  • Seat capacity reduced in 17 and increased in 4

Overall impact

  • Adds 5 rooms to the 11 to 21 seat category, where the need is highest
  • Reduces the inventory of 50 to 124 seat rooms, which are in relatively low demand
  • Results in 140 fewer seats in inventory
6 allocate sufficient capital funding

Dartmouth College: Recommendations and Solutions

6 Allocate Sufficient Capital Funding

Allocate sufficient capital funding over the next 5 years to bring classrooms up to the standards recommended in this report, and create capital outlay plan that serves as a roadmap for reinvestment in classrooms

  • Rationale
    • No formal mechanism for developing capital budgets based on physical condition of classroom and priority of need
    • To the extent that there is coordination of budgets, it is through individual efforts
    • To accomplish the proposed recommendations will require a more substantial investment that the relatively minor annual funding provided to the Classroom Committee
  • Comprehensive phasing / funding plan for renovation of 50 priority classrooms is recommended as part of the Comprehensive Classroom Management Plan
  • The plan is “time specific”, on the order of 5 to no more than 7 years, and covers technology, lighting, furnishings, equipment and general classroom modernization
critical questions

Stanford GSB: Existing Conditions

Critical Questions
  • What should be done to improve existing classrooms if the Graduate School of Business (GSB) remains in its current facilities for 10 years / 15 years / 20 years?
  • Is there a need for a new building? If so…
    • Should it be a classroom building?
    • What would be the critical features from the perspective of instructional space?
    • Views on location?
supply room inventory

Stanford GSB: Existing Conditions

Supply: Room Inventory
  • The inventory is comprised of 21 rooms – 17 in South and 4 in Littlefield – including two special purpose rooms.
  • 76% of the inventory is in rooms seating more than 40.
  • Most of South is large rooms; most of the small rooms are in Littlefield.
demand overview of courses

Stanford GSB: Existing Conditions

Demand: Overview of Courses
  • The Business School scheduled 90 to 100 courses per term (excluding summer). The autumn term was the most heavily scheduled.
  • Approximately 80% to 85% of regularly scheduled courses were for the MBA program.
standard vs non standard teaching times

Stanford GSB: Existing Conditions

Standard vs.Non-Standard Teaching Times
  • There is a strong adherence to standard time blocks (89% of MBA, 80% of Exec Ed and 50% of PhD)
  • The majority of courses (59%) were taught in the middle two periods (10am to 11:45am and 1:20pm to 3:05pm)
distribution by course enrollment

Stanford GSB: Existing Conditions

Distribution by Course Enrollment
  • The distribution of course hours between “small” (1 to 25), “medium” (26 to 40) and “large” (41 to 75) enrollments shows what size rooms are in greatest demand
    • In autumn and winter, 1/3 of courses are small, ~10% medium and 60% large.
    • In spring, about 1/3 are small, about ¼ are medium, and half are large.
demand vs supply

Sloan / Exec Ed Rooms

Stanford GSB: Existing Conditions

Demand vs. Supply

Course Hours vs. Available Room Hours, by Size

  • The chart below compares the number of hours to be scheduled each term (the “demand”) with the number of hours available for scheduling (the “supply”) for small, medium and large classes.
  • There is significantly more capacity vis-à-vis need in large rooms.
  • There is insufficient capacity in the 26 to 40 range.
demand vs supply1

Stanford GSB: Existing Conditions

Demand vs. Supply

Current Scheduling Patterns vs. “Optimal Alignment”

  • For each room below, the chart provides a view of the relative number of classes that are poorly aligned (red) and well-aligned (light / medium blue) to the room’s size (shown in dark blue).

Number of Seats in Room

Classes Poorly Aligned to Room Size

Classes Well Aligned to Room Size

case study stanford graduate school of business1

Case Study:Stanford Graduate School of Business

  • Existing Conditions
  • Recommendations
optimal inventory

Stanford GSB: Recommendations

Optimal Inventory
  • The chart below shows the optimal inventory assuming the current 4 day / 4 period scheduling pattern and room utilization assumptions of 60% (close to current practice) and 67% (target).
is there a need for a new building should it be a classroom building

Stanford GSB: Recommendations

Is there a need for a new building?Should it be a classroom building?


  • Current classrooms are not adequate and cannot be made adequate given the constraints of the South building.
    • South classrooms do not meet competitive / contemporary standards.
    • Classrooms cannot accommodate aisles, which are preferred for pedagogical reasons, and still meet capacity requirements.
    • Large (~150 seat) classroom – which is desirable for review sessions, outside speakers and potentially some larger courses – cannot be comfortably accommodated within existing building.
    • Difficult to accommodate any significant number of group study rooms.
  • The GSB should plan to build a new classroom building.
  • Regardless of when and where a new classroom building comes on line, improvements should be made to the existing classroom inventory.
recommended instructional space program

Stanford GSB: Recommendations

RecommendedInstructional Space Program
  • The recommended conceptual program for instructional space is as follows:
suggested improvements for existing classrooms

Stanford GSB: Recommendations

SuggestedImprovements for Existing Classrooms

“Rightsize” the existing inventory

  • Use variable per seat square footage allocations to dedensify classrooms and improve mix where possible, using the “ideal” inventory as a target.
  • Note that existing envelopes are not large enough to dedensify the largest rooms to a desirable square footage allocation (shown in green).
suggested improvements for existing classrooms1

Stanford GSB: Recommendations

SuggestedImprovements for Existing Classrooms
  • Upgrade furnishings, fixtures and equipment
    • Replace and reconfigure tables to allow for the addition of aisles where possible
    • Seats: If loose seats are used where possible, they may be used in new facilities once built.
    • Lighting: Modernize lighting to create zones and ability to raise and lower illumination levels.
  • Technology
    • Significant investments in technology in the existing facilities are not warranted:
      • Costs to retrofit
      • Speed of change in technology
      • Not required by current pedagogy at Stanford
    • However, design of a standardized podium would facilitate faculty use, can be maintained more easily by IT staff, and could be easily relocated to any new facility.
for further information

For further Information

Please contact:

Thomas Hier


Biddison Hier, Ltd.

Consultants to Higher Education

4315 Fifteenth Street, NW

Washington, DC 20011-7021

Phone: (202) 882-8700



Margaret Dyer-Chamberlain

Director of Capital Planning

Stanford University

655 Serra Building, Second Floor

Stanford, CA 94305

Phone: (650) 725-0430