New Classroom Enhancement Projects Support Pedagogical Innovation

While instruction for the 2020-21 academic year was remote, the campus hasn’t been sitting idle. In fact, with students and faculty out of classrooms, groups like the Classroom Enhancement Advisory Committee have been hard at work on a series of projects to optimize UCI classrooms for active and engaged learning.

According to Mathew Williams, Principal Analyst for Learning Environments at the Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation (DTEI), the focus of this round of classroom updates was to strike a balance between improving the flexibility of a broad set of small and medium-sized classrooms with more extensive renovations that will provide additional functionality focused on active and collaborative learning.

The classroom enhancements were centered around integrating new technologies, adding new furniture to make classroom spaces more flexible, and adding adjustable seating options to better support students with disabilities. Specific upgrades include the following:

  • All six classrooms in the Physical Sciences Classroom Building (PSCB) have been renovated and are receiving new furniture
  • PSCB 220 and 230 now hold 24 seats and have enhanced technology and student displays similar to the Anteater Learning Pavilion
  • An additional 30 classrooms have received new furniture that will provide more flexibility for a variety of pedagogical approaches
  • The accessible seating locations in these classrooms, along with 38 others, now have fully adjustable tables and chairs to better support a variety of student needs
  • The capacities of several classrooms have been reduced to enable full use of the new flexible furniture to accommodate the new accessible seating

While this set of enhancements have been completed, Williams emphasizes that the Committee’s work is an ongoing process that is informed by the 2016 Learning Spaces Advisory Committee Report as well as DTEI’s continued research on learning environments. “Our classroom enhancement projects are the result of careful planning and decision making,” he explains. “Our work revolves around gathering evidence and using this information to make strategic changes that will ultimately benefit both faculty and students.”

Reflecting on this recent set of classroom upgrades and the Committee’s work overall, he says:

I want to extend my sincerest gratitude to our many partners in OIT, Capital Planning, Facilities Management, and the University Registrar. As shared campus resources, these classroom enhancements are only possible through the collective efforts and shared leadership of many campus units. I hope the changes we have made will help support students as they transition back to campus, including the many students who have not yet been in a UCI classroom.”

The Classroom Enhancement Advisory Committee was established in 2018 to review the condition of all general assignment classrooms at UCI, formulate priorities and specific improvement plans, and oversee their implementation. Led by the DTEI in partnership with the Office of Information Technology (OIT), Capital Planning & Space Management, Facilities Management, and the University Registrar, the Committee’s goals align with the DTEI’s mission to “coordinate efforts to systematically align campus learning environments with current and emerging educational practices to maximize student success.”

For more information on UCI’s recent classroom enhancements, visit the DTEI’s Learning Environments page here. To learn more about DTEI and its various services and resources, visit their website here.