Infographic showing results from the spring 2012 faculty satisfaction survey on general purpose classrooms

In spring of 2012, instructors who teach in General Purpose Classrooms (GPC) were again invited to participate in an assessment of the classrooms in which they teach and 625 faculty members completed the survey at least once, for a 29%+ response rate. In addition, instructors were invited to complete another survey for each room in which they taught and several Teaching Assistants completed the survey as well, for a total of 683 completed surveys and 325 incomplete ones. Since the survey was anonymous and responders could complete more than one survey, it is not easy to determine exactly how many unique individual responders there were.

Participants were asked to identify which of the 356 rooms they were assessing and then asked to rate various aspects of that room. Although a spreadsheet was created listing the aspect rating by room, this report will report primarily the overall ratings and make recommendations regarding the most-needed indications for improvements.

As in the Fall 2011 survey, they were asked to rate the following aspects, ease of room location, physical appearance, cleanliness and lighting, the majority rated them as good to excellent. Seventy-five percent (75%) said the room was easy to locate, more than 80%% said the room appearance and cleanliness was good or better, classroom seating was considered was rated good or better as being conducive to learning by 75% .

Noise levels and sources were also evaluated and found to be acceptable in all but 13% of the responses. The unacceptable noise courses were external to the room in more than 2/3 of the cases.

A little more than 60% indicated that they had no problems with the physical room. The complaints of the others included things such as a lack of or poor quality of chalk, uncomfortable temperatures, and seat/desk crowding. Almost 64% of these problems are not reported to anyone. Those that are reported go generally to the tech classrooms support hotline, but only about half of these are resolved to the user’s satisfaction. These 74 respondents acknowledge that the support hotline folks are not always in a position to help, or it was after 4:30, or they knew ITS didn’t control the thermostat, or they can’t change the slope of the floor, etc. Their ideas for making the room a better place to teach included movable seating, fixing broken windows, fixing the temperature controls, improving the wireless access, and conflicting comments about the presence or absence of dual projectors, screens, and blackboards.

As in the Fall 2011 survey, 80% said they did NOT use the overhead projector in the room and 83% reported that the indicated room had a podium with a full complement of technology. A little more than 88% reported using the technology in the room during every class period and 96% said the equipment worked well for them. Only a little more than 60% were aware of the training offered on the use of the classroom technologies, and 17% had taken advantage of that training.

When asked which technologies they had used, the most frequently used tool was the computer projection (96%), the Windows podium computer (60%), and the DVD player (24%). The most frequently used podium connection was the USB connection (69%).

More than 90% felt the controls in the room were simple to use. Some, though, had trouble with remote controls for the projector or slow computer response times (9%). More than 50% never had any trouble at all and only 3% said they had trouble every class period.

Participants were asked whether or not they would use a lecture capture feature, if it were made available in the classroom. The responses were mixed fairly evenly with 34% saying yes, 31% saying no, and .35% unsure. Likewise, the responses were fairly even (51% yes, 49% no) as to whether or not they wanted dual projectors to show two different images on two separate screens in the room.

We asked if they encouraged their students to use wireless devices in the classroom. More than half (57%) said they did not and only 6% said they used clickers in their class.

We asked instructors to think about the technologies they feel are missing, that is, what would be on their classroom technology wishlist. What is evident still is the very wide range of technology abilities and needs among instructors. Requests ranged from “higher quality image projection” and “videoconference capability” to reliable wireless access, wireless connection to the digital projector, document cameras, and clicker systems. One request was “It would be nice to have the capability to write on an iPad or some similar device and then have that writing projected on the board, instead of doing the chalkboard.” Others mentioned “Skype” and blocks for cell phone activity during class.

Most faculty are eager to learn about the tools made available to them. In the survey space provided, 48 instructors asked to be contacted to learn more about the classroom technologies. Many instructors are happy with their classroom, such as the instructor who said, “None; I’ve been very happy with the technology and the availability of tech savvy staff to help if I need it. The only issues I’ve encountered were with other professors who taught before me who may have changed some settings that I was not sure how to fix (i.e., screen resolution so the projector wouldn’t show an entire PowerPoint image). That being said, I was able to get in touch with someone immediately who helped me fix the problem.” Other instructors comments included: “There should be an effort made to have more classrooms in that clustered format. I also teach in 210 Keller (a Smeal lab) and I do not like the stadium-style seating in there. In general, many of the older buildings need to have an Air Conditioning retrofit.” Yet another commented, “Can we get better quality chalk? Please? This stuff breaks way too easily.“

For more information about this survey or its results, contact Vicki S. Williams, Ph.D. at vqw@psu.edu

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