Classroom improvements support the flexibility, accessibility, and safety of campus learning spaces.

A strategic plan initiative is transforming classrooms at the University of Iowa into dynamic, flexible, and inclusive spaces that enhance student engagement and success. As part of P3 funding to support education infrastructure on campus, $2 million was allocated for classroom updates for the 2023-24 academic year. These updates align with the 2022-2027 Strategic Plan priorities of enhancing excellence in teaching and learning, promoting holistic well-being and success, and providing a welcoming and inclusive environment. 

University Classrooms staff coordinated upgrades to hundreds of spaces across campus. Classrooms were equipped with accessible furniture designed for height adjustability, ease of use, mobility, and comfort, ensuring that more students, regardless of physical abilities, have opportunities to participate in class. The introduction of new student tables, chair replacements, and tablet armchairs increased flexibility in 77 classrooms, allowing for easy reconfigurations for group or individual activities to foster a more active and engaging learning environment. The impact of these improvements is supported by both academic studies and instructor feedback. 

The 2013 article “Research on Learning Space Design: Present State, Future Directions” indicates that flexible classroom design significantly enhances student engagement and collaboration. Furniture that can easily be moved or rearranged reduces transition times between lecture and group activities, supports student interaction, and encourages students to ask questions or participate in discussions. 

Instructors at Iowa have also noted the positive effects of these changes. Pamela Bourjaily, an associate professor of instruction in the Tippie College of Business, emphasized how the adaptable furniture fostered collaborative learning and enhanced the effectiveness of group activities and peer feedback.

Classroom Updates in 23-24

77 full classroom furniture upgrades

158 classrooms with new accessible seating

95 safety and security upgrades

"Having the chairs and tables set up in a way that facilitated in-class teamwork and continued team bonding over the course of the BUS 3000 semester made a huge difference. The flexibility to move the tables and chairs for presentations and peer feedback was invaluable."

— Pamela Bourjaily, associate professor of instruction, Accounting

The classroom improvements also included safety upgrades, with the installation of AMAG (electronic access) systems and emergency lockdown buttons in 38 classrooms, ensuring a secure environment where students and faculty can focus on learning.

Pharmacy Classroom
Tablet arm chairs with wheels allow students and instructors to seamlessly transition between lecture and group discussion, creating a more active, collaborative, and engaging learning environment. 

Building on the success of the 2023-24 upgrades, the university will continue modernizing classrooms in FY2025 with the support of another $2 million in P3 funding. Initial plans involve installing new furniture in 43 additional classrooms, continuing the trend of creating flexible and comfortable learning spaces that support a wide range of teaching and learning styles. The university will also enhance accessibility, with updates in 42 classrooms and auditoria, power door openers in 16 classrooms, and height-adjustable instructor stations in 80 classrooms. Safety features will also be added, with AMAG systems and emergency lockdown buttons installed in 8 more classrooms and auditoria.

The benefits from these classroom improvements are already evident, with enhanced learning environments fostering greater student engagement, collaboration, and participation. These changes are paving the way for more successful educational outcomes and a stronger academic experience for all students. 

Featured Classroom Updates

Van Allen Hall 65

Lindquist Center N104

Macbride Hall Auditorium