Executive Summary

In August 2017, Executive Vice Chancellor Kathy Johnson charged the IUPUI Classroom Needs Analysis committee with conducting a year-long study that would: “gather broad input from faculty and students on the types of classrooms we need at IUPUI to best support instruction … and to outline your recommendations for the types of classrooms that we need to best support instruction at IUPUI.”

The intent of this classroom needs analysis report was to comprehensively examine faculty and student perceptions of physical teaching and learning environments across IUPUI. We used mixed methods procedures that encompassed large-scale faculty (N=1,170) and student (N=502) surveys, nine faculty focus groups (N=39 total faculty), an IUPUI Mosaic Faculty Fellows focus group, and individual faculty interviews (N=6).

The analysis revealed that faculty most frequently adopted the following pedagogical strategies: interactive lecture, class discussion, collaborative learning, and group activities. These findings indicate that even in lecture-room settings, classroom designs should provide enough flexibility to facilitate group discussion and collaboration activities.

Provided with an opportunity to identify learning spaces on IUPUI’s campus that are particularly problematic, students referenced buildings erected during the 1970s as being most in need of renovation. Learning spaces in particular need of improvement include Cavanaugh Hall, the Engineering and Technology Building, Lecture Hall, and the Nursing Building.

As IUPUI considers future designs for classroom spaces, input from faculty and students is critical. The IUPUI Classroom Needs Analysis committee is grateful to the faculty and students who provided us with the insights presented in this report.

The report first presents key findings and recommendations, and then follows with detailed summaries from each of the studies we conducted.


Anastasia Morrone, PhD
Associate Vice President, IU Learning Technologies
Dean of IT, IUPUI
Professor, Educational Psychology

Silvia Bigatti, PhD
Professor, Social and Behavioral Sciences

Nicole Collins
Associate Registrar, IUPUI

Michele Hansen, PhD
Assistant Vice Chancellor, Institutional Research and Decision Support
Adjunct Associate Professor, Psychology

Debora Herold, PhD
Senior Lecturer, Psychology

Douglas Jerolimov, PhD
Instructional Design Consultant, IUPUI Center for Teaching and Learning

Julie Johnston
Director, Learning Spaces, IU Learning Technologies

Brian Krohn, PhD
Associate Professor, Tourism, Conventions and Event Management

Tiffany Roman, PhD
Research Assistant, IU Learning Technologies

Terri Tarr, PhD
Director, IUPUI Center for Teaching and Learning


The following are a synthesis of the key findings from the IUPUI Faculty Survey (administered spring 2018 to a census of all IUPUI faculty excluding the School of Medicine), faculty focus group and interview results, and an IUPUI Student Survey.

Faculty Survey

  • Classroom spaces should be designed based on the predominant teaching strategies and methods used to enhance student learning and success at IUPUI. Almost half (47%) of faculty survey respondents indicated that they used interactive lectures in almost every class, and 22% indicated they use interactive lectures in every class. The vast majority of faculty also use engaging discussions (45% almost every class and 28% every class). Many faculty members also reported that that they frequently employed collaborative learning and group activities (33% almost every class and 16% every class). These findings suggest that spaces that allow for a combination of lecture and group activities/collaborative learning may be ideal.
  • The type of pedagogy embraced by faculty seemed to influence the classroom attributes that were most important to them. The top five classroom attributes rated very important or extremely important were as follows:
    1. Adequate visibility within a space from students to presenters, to course content, to demonstrations, and to other students (72%)
    2. Space that allows easy movement of all students within the space to support and facilitate interactions (67%)
    3. Space that allows for robust sharing of visual data by making it easily available, visible, and/or readable by all students (64%)
    4. Furniture with adequate work surface to accommodate several devices and materials that students might bring the class (60%)
    5. Seamless management of audio/visual content by instructors and learners across multiple output systems including installed displays, computers, and mobile devices (59%)

Faculty Focus Groups and Faculty Interviews

  • Faculty desire technology that is working, easy to use, and reliable. (similar to V above)
  • Faculty desire flexible spaces and moveable furniture that allows them to interact with students and facilitate group activities. (same as II above)
  • One out of five comments reflected on a specific aspect of writing surfaces in the classroom as being a top priority. More often faculty refer to white/chalk boards, but a significant number also refer to having adequate desk/table space for students to take notes or complete work. (same as IV above)
  • Focus group results also suggested that future classroom spaces should include rooms that work for both lecture and group activities as well as configurable/flexible classroom arrangements.  Faculty also noted that whiteboards are desirable for faculty and student use.

Student Survey

  • According to the student survey, future classroom spaces should include furniture with adequate work spaces to accommodate multiple devices, high technology with many screens, adequate visibility within space, ways to hear and communicate clearly, the ability to move chairs around, enough surface space to write, comfortable temperatures, access to electrical power for devices, and locations that are convenient for students.
  • Survey results suggest renovating particularly problematic classrooms and avoiding designing classrooms that are dimly lit, with uncomfortable seats and outdated technologies.
  • The classrooms students identified as their favorite classrooms were: Business SPEA 2001, 2003, 2005, Hine Hall 118, and Cavanaugh 349. All of these classrooms are Mosaic classrooms.
  • The classroom spaces identified as problematic by students are situated within 1970s buildings at IUPUI that have been identified as most in need of renovation, including Cavanaugh Hall, the Engineering and Technology Building, Lecture Hall, and the Nursing Building:

Cavanaugh Hall, particularly the 2nd floor, and the Nursing Building (n=168)

    • Crowded learning environment (e.g., difficulty moving without disrupting classmates)
    • Limited physical configurability for large/small group discussions and seminars
    • Lack of windows and natural light
    • Uncomfortable seats
    • Desks are too small
    • Temperature issues (e.g., poor air conditioning, can be stuffy or hot)
    • Building disrepair (e.g., ceiling tiles are falling out)
    • Certain technologies are outdated

Business building (n=57 [third floor n=22; second floor n=16])

    • Crowded learning environment; students have difficulty exiting seating
    • Limited power outlets for student use
    • Rolling desks are too small
    • WiFi connections are “horrible,” negatively impacting lectures and student presentations
    • Temperature issues present within building (e.g., too hot)

Lecture Hall (n=47 [first floor was most frequently mentioned])

    • Limited power outlets for student use
    • Chairs are small, uncomfortable, stained, and broken
    • Air conditioning is loud and distracting
    • Inadequate space for personal items within classrooms
    • Reported difficulties in moving around
    • Tables are too small; difficult to take notes

Engineering and Technology Building (n=21)

    • Crowded learning environment
    • Tables do not offer much space
    • No place to store personal items
    • Uncomfortable chairs
    • Limited power outlets for student use
    • Reported difficulties in viewing board

Basement rooms (n=20)

    • Dim lighting
    • Tablet chairs are too small; difficult to take notes
    • Dated furniture
    • Crowded learning environment, which limits group discussion
    • Limited power outlets for student use
    • WiFi connections are poor


Student and Instructor Movement

The classroom attributes rated most highly by faculty and students include adequate workspace and the ability to move freely through the space. These findings lead to the recommendation, when feasible, to equip classrooms with tables/chairs with sufficient workspace per student in lieu of tablet arm chairs. In addition, appropriate square footage per student is of critical importance to enabling active learning and ease of movement within the classroom.  As such, the number of students assigned to classrooms may need to be reduced from the current benchmarks in order to provide adequate movement of students within a given learning space. Classrooms that require immediate attention are the Lecture Hall spaces, in which student movement is hindered through the stadium seating configuration. Lecture Hall rooms can be adapted in a manner similar to Hine Hall 118, which enable students to collaborate within each other while situated within a tiered setup.

Collaboration and Affordances

The faculty and student surveys indicated that lectures without participation are the least common – thus providing validation that we should continue to build spaces that maximize the following: classroom discussions, interactive lectures, enabling instructors to demonstrate or provide a simulation of how something works, and collaborative learning/group activities.

The campus should continue to explore large active learning classroom designs that facilitate interactive lecture, and identify expansion of these affordances throughout the campus. Lecture Hall 104 has been a popular addition to the active learning classrooms available at IUPUI.  The remaining lecture hall classrooms could be considered for upgraded interactive features.

Additionally, to support collaborative learning activities, all classrooms should have sufficient whiteboards and markers for use by both instructors and students. Dedicated storage areas for consumables (e.g., whiteboard markers) and monitoring of the storage areas will enable instructors to better facilitate student use of whiteboard collaboration spaces. Projection screens that block the use of whiteboards should be avoided whenever possible.

Adequate Access to Power and Comfortable Learning Environments

As we continue to renovate our spaces, we must continually be aware that today’s students will bring multiple mobile devices to class. Adequate space to accommodate multiple devices is critical. To futureproof our classrooms, we need sufficient electrical power and Wi-Fi to accommodate the increasing use of mobile devices for instructional purposes in the classroom. Solutions include electronic power embedded into collaborative tables, as seen in Hine Hall 118. Other power solutions include free standing vertical electrical power stations, as seen in the Immersive Showcase Classroom in University Hall (AD 1000). Alternative solutions may include wireless charging mats or charging pads for mobile devices. In addition to providing access to power outlets and adequate writing space, future renovations should also ensure that students are in comfortable environments (e.g., seating) to accommodate and not distract from learning. To help further define what types of furniture are most comfortable to students, we suggest the IUPUI Classroom Committee work with the University Architects Office (UAO) to solicit feedback from students about their preferences for different types of classroom furniture and to use the students’ feedback to inform the purchase of new furniture.

Growth of Informal Learning Spaces

Informal student spaces should be intentionally designed to complement active learning classrooms, so they become extensions of the learning environment. We recommend that the IUPUI Classroom Committee consider simultaneously renovating space directly outside of classrooms when the opportunity arises. As students increasingly engage in collaborative group work, small breakout areas adjacent to classroom spaces would provide much needed areas for students to engage in team-based learning.

Prioritizing Campus Renovations

The classroom buildings identified as most problematic should be prioritized by the IUPUI Classroom Committee for upgrades. This interactive map indicates the placement of the current active learning classrooms across the IUPUI campus.



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IUPUI Classroom Needs Analysis 2018 by The Trustees of Indiana University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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