USNA Classroom Utilization Study - Final Report - Analysis of Issues Affecting Classroom Utilization at the United States Naval Academy
Wood, Frank R. "Chip"
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Demand on Naval Academy facilities has increased due to sustained growth in the Academy’s academic programs in new areas such as cyber studies, language and cultural studies, and increased emphasis on conferring Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) degrees. In addition, the pedagogical requirements of training the Brigade of Midshipmen in all aspects of their mental, moral and physical development has evolved significantly over the years; requiring new types of teaching, learning spaces and processes that have had significant impact on the usage of classrooms and laboratories at the Academy. This pedagogy has been formalized into a series of processes and regimens that we identify as constraints in this study. These constraints act collectively to define the actual utilization of every facility at the Naval Academy. In addition, they form the basis for almost all of the business rules used by the Academic Dean’s office in their mission of facilitating the mental development of the Brigade, and ultimately become the drivers for new facilities requirements. Despite the restrictive nature of these constraints, the Naval Academy has performed above the national average in its utilization of its classrooms, and as of the fall 2010 semester, has achieved a current classroom average utilization rate of 74%. While this is noteworthy, we believe that by making a few minor adjustments which would not represent a significant departure from its cultural norms, the Academy can utilize its existing classrooms at an even higher level. In this study, we present the constraints pertaining to classroom utilization in five categories; Physical, Student Body, Faculty, Traditional and Technology. We briefly examine each constraint and qualitatively explain its impact on facilities utilization. We recognize that constraints are a reality of doing business and that especially in circumstances such as at the Naval Academy they are even highly desired, valued and part of the cultural heart of the institution. However, we present a series of recommendations that encourage new examinations of the constraints in light of the constrained facilities construction budget in the Department of the Navy and in response to the Naval Academy’s sense of urgency in identifying space for the emerging curriculum requirements in Cyber Studies. We wish to highlight several of these recommendations that, in our assessment, appear to be palatable and executable in the near future without significant disruption to the norms at the Academy; _ Reclaim a seventh daily period of instruction by shortening the noon meal period and beginning the afternoon class sessions earlier. _ Adhere more closely to the Academic Dean guidelines on appropriate sizes of classes and strictly limit the number of small classes (fewer than 16 Midshipmen) to specialized instances. _ Schedule and assign classrooms and labs at the Division level vs. independent Department-led academic scheduling. These opportunities, among others that we present in our recommendations, will have real and immediate impact on the utilization of classrooms at the Naval Academy and can be accomplished in incremental steps or in tandem. Delivering future leaders of the Navy to the Fleet on schedule and on budget is no small task and we applaud the Naval Academy leadership in their dedicated efforts. We hope that this study encourages further dialogue on how to maximize all of the academic facilities and associated resources that are currently available to meet these demands.
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