Having to sit through a two-and-a-half-hour class can be difficult for any college student. Having to teach a two-and-a-half-hour class can be trying for professors as well. Having to do both in a classroom that is cramped, hot and under-equipped adds to the stress of such a long class, and the same is true even of shorter ones.
When it comes to classroom space, there are two factors we feel the University needs to address. The first is the amount of usable classroom space. The second is the physical space within classrooms, such as the number of available desks and how many students are in the class.
A solution to the issue of classroom space is to simply acquire more of it. This semester, GW has had to make adjustments due to a shortage of classrooms. In a past editorial we suggested that parts of the Hall on Virginia Avenue be utilized for administrative functions and parts of Rice Hall be converted to more classroom space. These would be effective steps in solving some of the classroom deficit issues. Rice Hall is located directly on campus and, although not used by students on a daily basis, it would make a perfect location for more classrooms. HOVA, on the other hand, houses a relatively small number of graduate students in rooms poorly suited to their needs. The building would be better suited to some of the administrative facilities currently in Rice Hall.
Other than putting offices in HOVA and classrooms in Rice Hall, the University can make increasing classroom space a priority for capital development plans. This does not mean the University must spend large amounts of money, but rather it should keep the current space problems in mind when drafting plans for renovations. New construction could help to improve the situation.
The climate inside the classroom is important too, as overcrowded classrooms create a horrible learning and teaching environment. Depending on attendance policies, certain classes will always fill rooms to capacity. If classrooms are not big enough, or do not have enough desks, even a single student without a seat can detract from the learning environment.
Even if a classroom is listed as having the appropriate number of seats, the physical reality of the room does not necessarily match those of the specifications set out for the class. It is important for GW to take into consideration the size, shape and actual type of classroom to which each class is assigned. The best way to ensure the classroom environment is functional is to listen to professors’ complaints and address them effectively. Professors know the resources necessary to teach their classes. Still, we have heard multiple professors complaining that the University is less than receptive to such concerns.
Overcrowding in classrooms is a problem that clearly detracts from students’ ability to learn and professors’ ability to teach. The University needs to ensure that the space we currently have is used efficiently, and in the long term, get more classroom space.
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