Editorial: Iowa State must reconsider classroom scheduling



Editorial Board

Iowa’s public universities need to be more efficient in how they educate their students, and, based off years of studies, where and when they educate them, as well.

That’s what the Iowa Board of Regents thought when it announced it was going to hire a consulting firm to conduct an efficiency review of Iowa’s three public universities. TIER, or Transparent, Inclusive Efficiency Review, is aimed at reviewing academic and administrative units and considering staffing levels and operational costs.

Iowa’s three regent universities have been under said efficiency review since around March 2014. Deloitte Consulting collected data on the three regent universities and identified areas on which to improve.

At the October board meeting on the UI campus, Pappas Consulting Group and Ad Astra presented their major findings for the universities.

The study states that as Iowa State stands now, it does not need more classroom space, but needs to use its current classrooms more effectively.

It does, however, say that Iowa State has below average prime-time space use, except in the largest lecture rooms. The efficiency of classroom utilization is at around 60 percent, according to the report, which is below average. The report suggests Iowa State should take advantage of what it calls “non-prime” hours.

Iowa State’s campus does not seem like it was originally constructed to handle the fast mass of students that flooded it.

Iowa State’s classroom assignments are managed through a software package that uses an algorithm, a method Ad Astra found effective. The university recently conducted a classroom study, where an architecture firm reviewed the use of campus classrooms and found that nearly 50 percent of existing classrooms during the next five years need to be renovated.

The renovations are definitely needed.

From a student perspective, the current way classrooms, especially lecture halls, are used does not support the current enrollment, and if Iowa State continues to grow the way it has been, won’t support future enrollment.

However, the report suggests to increase non-prime-time class space use, meaning more night classes.

Have you ever sat through a class until or past 8 p.m.? It’s brutal. Eyelids are heavy and attention spans are short.

But with the current way Iowa State schedules classes, 18 percent of classroom space is wasted, according to the report.

Putting in additional classrooms can’t provide an immediate fix, as the construction will take months. Each additional classroom costs about $250,000 (initially) and $6,000 annually to maintain, according to the report.

We implore that Iowa State consider expanding the number of classes that are offered between the hours of 4 and 7 p.m. The university could also consider offering lecture classes outside of the main hours students seek of 8 to 11 a.m., which could open up numerous smaller classroom and office spaces.