In Fall 2011, 1916 faculty were invited to participate in an assessment of the classrooms in which they teach and 555 faculty members completed the survey at least once, for a 29%+ response rate. In addition, faculty members 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 629 responses. Since the survey was anonymous, 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.
Physical Conditions in the Classroom
When asked to rate the following aspects, ease of room location, physical appearance, cleanliness and lighting, the majority rated them as good to excellent. However, students seating and room temperature were rated lower overall, with roughly 25% rating them as poor or very poor in these aspects.
|Very Poor||Poor||Good||Very Good||Excellent|
|Room easy to locate||7 (1%)||30 (5%)||132 (21%)||182 (30%)||245 (40%)|
|Physical appearance||9 (2%)||48 (8%)||186 (30%)||186 (30%)||171 (28%)|
|Cleanliness||6 (1%)||35 (6%)||185 (30%)||215 (35%)||152 (25%)|
conducive to learning
|41 (7%)||116 (19%)||197 (32%)||138 (22%)||117 (19%)|
|Sufficient lighting||9 (2%)||34 (6%)||189 (31%)||192 (31%)||182 (30%)|
|Room temperature||50 (8%)||100 (16%)||225 (36%)||154 (25%)||86 (14%)|
Noise levels and sources were also evaluated and found to be acceptable in all but 15% of the responses. The unacceptable noise courses were external to the room in more than 2/3 of the cases.
A similar number indicated that they had no problems with any disrepair in the room. The complaints of the other ±200 include things such as a lack of chalk, uncomfortable temperatures, and seat/desk crowding. Almost 71% of these problems are not reported to anyone. Those that are reported go generally to the tech classrooms support hotline, but only 40% of these are resolved to the users’ satisfaction. These 70 respondents acknowledge that the support hotline folks are not always in a position to help, or it was after 4:30, 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.
Technologies in the Classroom
This year, 77% said they did NOT use the overhead projector in the room and 82% (606 responses) reported that the indicated room had a podium with a full complement of technology. A little more than 97% reported using the technology in the room during every class period and 94% said the equipment worked well for them. Seventy percent (70%) were aware of the training offered on the use of the classroom technologies, but only 17% had taken advantage of that training.
When asked which technologies they had used, the most frequently used tool was the computer projection and the most frequently used computer platform was Windows. The most frequently used podium connection was the USB connection (68%).
More than 90% felt the controls in the room were simple to use. One responder said, “…This system is by far the best that I have encountered at Penn State. Even a monkey could operate the VHS and DVD players.” Some, though, had trouble with remote controls for the projector or slow computer response times. More than 40% 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. Likewise, the responses were fairly even 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 said they did not and only 6% said they used clickers in their class.
We asked faculty to think about the technologies they feel are missing, that is, what would be on their classroom technology wishlist. What becomes evident is the very wide range of technology abilities and needs among instructors. Answers ranged from “a usable chalkboard” to reliable wireless access, wireless connection to the digital projector, document cameras, and brighter projectors. One faculty wanted a digital whiteboard/smartboard that didn’t take a semester to learn how to use it. Another says,”More I-tech classrooms are necessary. I struggle to have I-tech rooms for every section each semester. Fortunately, the person in our department who is responsible for scheduling classes does her best to find me I-tech rooms.” Several asked for lecture capture capability.
Most faculty are eager to learn about the tools made available to them. In the survey space provided, 40 faculty asked to be contacted to learn more about the classroom technologies. Other suggestions mentioned things like accessible escape routes from classrooms… and, of course chalk and temperature control. One commented, “I realize I’m old-fashioned, but is it too much to ask for technology-friendly classrooms to also be useable by dinosaurs that like chalk? (Sorry for the split infinitive, too.)”
For more information about this survey or its results, contact Vicki S. Williams, Ph.D. at firstname.lastname@example.org.