Planning for Higher Education Journal

Design Criteria for Effective Classrooms

Journal Cover
From Volume 17 Number 1 | 1988–1989
By Wendell Brase
Planning Types: Campus Planning

In the late 1980s, the University of California, Santa Cruz began a $1.5 million program to upgrade classroom quality. This was disturbing considering the campus was only 25 years old. The problem was neither architectural neglect nor budgetary deficits. Quality problems resulted from the attitude that classroom design was not an important element. Many design flaws occur from misunderstanding the factors that affect user need, such as the ability to see or hear (the reduction of ambient noise). Additionally, required surfaces and finishes are important. These include the sending end--front wall, side walls, and ceiling; side walls and rear wall; ceiling; and floor/seating. Finally, design for durability and functionality under actual use conditions consists of the following: the use of carpet for acoustically absorbent wall finish, installation of motorized blackboards and the projection screen, a seat width of 21 inches, and quiet table arms for seats. Colleges and universities must realize that "effective classroom design" elicits attention to detail and an understanding of functional objectives. Adherence to both can lead to effective classrooms.

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