Office of Institutional Research

Research Studies


Study of Facilities Use
at James Madison University
1998-99

 

Table of Contents

Introduction

Results

Executive Summary

Methodology

Discussion


Executive Summary

James Madison University has grown rapidly in the last 17 years from 8,817 students in Fall 1980 to 14,414 in Fall 1998. Fall 2001 enrollment is expected to exceed 14,800. The Fall 1999 enrollment is expected to exceed 14,700. Continued growth of this magnitude places enormous pressure on an institution to use its space wisely. Since nearly $100 million dollars in general fund money for capital outlay has been expended or appropriated since 1980 for JMU, demands have risen for accountability for the wise use of resources. SCHEV monitors biannually how well publicly funded higher education institutions use their space. Several of the performance indicators for all public higher education institutions developed by SCHEV and the Department of Planning and Budget (DPB) relate to the use of classrooms and class labs.

The purpose of this report is to analyze the utilization of instructional space and indicate where improvements might be made in its use.

Below are the major conclusions of this study.

Classroom utilization follows patterns not unlike other higher education institutions. Like studies conducted by OIR in Fall 1995, 1996, and 1997, the largest proportion of classes occur between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., and Friday classrooms tend to be significantly less scheduled than Monday through Thursday. The percentage of sections taught outside of "prime time" has increased each year since 1995.

JMU is one of the top three most efficient users of classroom and lab space in the Commonwealth. Only Virginia Commonwealth University in 1996 met all of SCHEV's standards for classrooms and class labs. JMU, George Mason University, and the Virginia Community College System met five out of six of the standards. Since the utilization data were conducted in Fall 1996, JMU staff have identified many spaces that have multiple uses and would best be categorized as space that is irregularly scheduled. By changing the categorization of these spaces and more efficient utilization of space caused by more students, JMU should achieve the SCHEV utilization standards in Fall 1999.

The use of the normal Tuesday/Thursday schedule for some Monday and Wednesday classes continues to be a deterrent to using space more efficiently. More instructional space was used early in the morning, at noon, and in the late afternoon in 1998, but there was no improvement in the use of space on Friday. This is deterrent to the efficient use of instructional space because if more space were used during "prime time" on Friday, more space would be available during the "prime time" of 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Monday through Thursday.

Because instructional space is at a premium, and SCHEV’s formulas for justifying additional space have become even more rigorous, the university must continue to explore ways to enhance the efficient use of instructional space. The university plans to implement soon an automated classroom-scheduling program, SCHEDULE 25. Reports from other institutions and the vendor suggest that this program can improve the utilization of space by 10 percent or more.

Some classrooms and labs are not scheduled efficiently because they do not meet the instructional needs of the sections being taught. They may be too small, poorly equipped for technology, have poor lighting, etc. An analysis of the adequacy of instructional space was conducted in 1997-98 to determine what types of functional renovations should be made.

It can be reasonably concluded from this study that JMU is an efficient user of its space compared with most Virginia institutions, but there is room for improvement. There is instructional space that can be scheduled for the new sections that must be offered in 1999-2000, but not at times that have been traditionally scheduled as often. Growth in total space has generally kept pace with enrollment increases so far, but instructional space that can be scheduled has not grown as fast as some other types of space. The enrollment increases expected in Fall 1999 will severely stress the use of all space, especially instructional classrooms and residential facilities. The completion of the Phase I academic building on the CISAT campus in Fall 1997, and the completion of the Phase II academic building in 2000 will alleviate some of the space pressures for classroom labs.

Introduction

James Madison University has grown rapidly in the last 17 years from 8,817 students in Fall 1980 to 14,414 in Fall 1998. Fall 2001 enrollment is expected to exceed 14,800. The Fall 1999 enrollment is expected to exceed 14,700. Continued growth of this magnitude places enormous pressure on an institution to use its space wisely. The university has experienced rapid growth in its physical plant to try to keep up with this enrollment growth; however, rapid growth has at times strained all facilities, especially classrooms and class labs in the last four years.

Since nearly $100 million dollars in general fund money for capital outlay has been expended or appropriated since 1980 for JMU, demands have risen for accountability for the wise use of resources. SCHEV monitors biannually how well publicly funded higher education institutions use their space. In fact, the State has tightened its criteria for justifying new space, and SCHEV will review space utilization data in the future to determine how efficiently new space is used. Several of the performance indicators for all public higher education institutions developed by SCHEV and the Department of Planning and Budget (DPB) relate to the use of classrooms and class labs.

Increased enrollments at JMU tax the use of academic space, necessitating a much closer inspection of when and where academic space is used for instruction. This is particularly true because freshman classes are now bringing in close to 3,000 new students. A major concern is when and where can these new students be housed and taught.

Several guiding research questions were developed to gather information to help the JMU community understand how the university has grown and how efficiently it uses space. These guiding research questions are presented below:

How does JMU's utilization compare with other Virginia public institutions? What are the performance indicators for JMU for Fall 1998?

How many instructional spaces and how much assignable square feet does JMU have by type of space (classroom, class lab, etc.)?

What is the profile of instructional space use by day and time for Fall 1998? How efficiently was this space used? Are there times when additional classes could be added?

How can JMU meet the instructional space pressures that come with enrollment growth?

Methodology

The Office of Institutional Research (OIR) maintains JMU’s official institutional space profile. Annually in October a file of space profile information is sent to SCHEV. This profile contains information such as building number, room number, room use code, function code (instruction, research, etc.), and square feet. Every other year OIR sends a room utilization file to SCHEV. This second file is used by SCHEV to learn how efficiently all institutions are using their instructional space.

In Fall 1998 a utilization file was developed and sent to SCHEV. At the time of this report, SCHEV has not finished their utilization study. Space use must be carefully monitored to ensure accurate reporting to SCHEV. The utilization file was used to calculate JMU's utilization statistics for 1998. This year each room was reanalyzed to ensure proper coding. Because of this careful analysis, several rooms were recoded. The information in this file was used to generate a table and graphs of space usage by day and time. This file was also used to determine how efficiently the space was used by day and time. All data were analyzed using Microsoft Access and Microsoft Excel.

Results

The results of this study are presented below and are organized by the guiding research questions.

How does JMU's utilization compare with other Virginia public institutions?

Table 1 shows the classroom utilization statistics for James Madison University and the other public institutions for Fall 1996 and for JMU for Fall 1997 and 1998. The standard for weekly hours of room use is 40. Only three institutions, George Mason University, Old Dominion University, and Virginia Commonwealth University, met the standard in Fall 1996. JMU’s rate was 37 hours in 1996, 39 hours in 1997, and 39 hours in 1998. The standard for the average proportion of seats filled in a classroom is 60. Nine institutions, including JMU, met this standard. The standard for weekly hours of seat usage (SCHEV defines "seats" as "stations") is 24 for classrooms. Six institutions, including JMU, exceeded the standard. JMU's figure, 28, was the highest of all public institutions. Only two institutions, George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth University, met all three standards. JMU met two out of the three.

JMU's weekly hours of room use (37) in 1996 was close to SCHEV's standard of 40 for an extended day (8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.). In 1997 it increased to 39 hours. In 1998 it’s use was almost 40 hours (39.45 hours). With the expected increase of 300 students in Fall 1999 without additional classroom space being added, the average number of hours is expected to exceed 40. Even though it is expected that the number of hours will reach 40 in Fall 1999, it is more difficult for institutions located in a small towns like JMU to meet the extended day standard due to limited demand from the community for evening courses except in education and business.

Table 2 shows the class lab utilization statistics for James Madison University, and the other public institutions for Fall 1996 and for JMU in Fall 1997 and Fall 1998. The SCHEV standard for average number of hours of use is 24. Five institutions, including JMU, exceeded the standard. The standard for the average proportion of seats filled in a class lab is 75. Eleven institutions, including JMU, met this standard. Finally, the standard for weekly hours of seat usage is 18. Five institutions, including JMU met this standard. Only JMU, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Virginia Community College System met all three standards for class labs. JMU’s class lab utilization may be the highest in the Commonwealth. The addition of the second CISAT academic building should reduce the pressures on class labs.

The results indicate that in 1996 Virginia Commonwealth University was the most efficient user of space, followed by JMU, George Mason University, and the Virginia Community College System. Since this utilization file was sent to SCHEV in Fall 1996, an analysis of underutilized classroom space at JMU has resulted in the reclassification of several classrooms and class labs.

The Department of Planning and Budget mandated that each institution develop performance measures in classroom use. In 1997 JMU indicated that it would meet all SCHEV standards for classroom and class labs space in Fall 1998. While it appears that JMU fell slightly short of the standard in classroom utilization (39.45 hours vs. 40 hours), JMU is still among the most efficient users of classroom and class lab space.

Table 1
Classroom Utilization
Fall 1996, 1997, and 1998 (JMU Only in 1997 and 1998)

Institution

Weekly Hours of Room Use
Standard = 40
1

Percent of Occupancy
Standard = 60%
2

Weekly Hours of Station (Seats) Use
Standard = 24
3

Doctoral      
George Mason

44

65%

27

Old Dominion

46

51%

23

University of Virginia

32

57%

18

Virginia Commonwealth

43

61%

26

Virginia Tech

36

75%

27

William & Mary

28

61%

17

Comprehensives      
Christopher Newport

38

59%

23

Clinch Valley

26

59%

15

James Madison 1996

37

76%

28

James Madison 1997

39

71%

28

James Madison 1998

39

71%

28

Longwood

29

60%

17

Mary Washington

35

64%

22

Norfolk State

26

59%

15

Radford

39

58%

23

Virginia Military

14

56%

8

Virginia State

30

58%

17

Two Year Institutions      
VCCS

34

74%

25

Richard Bland

18

67%

12

Met standard  
1. Weekly hours of room use is the total hours of classroom use, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., divided by the total number of classrooms.
2. Percent of occupancy is the total hours per week that each station (seat) is used divided by the weekly hours of room use.
3. Weekly hours of seat (station) use is the total hours seats (stations) occupied divided by the total hours all seats could have been used when the room was occupied. For example, suppose 10 classrooms each have 20 seats and are used 40 hours per week. However, suppose each class contained 15 students. The total actual weekly seat use hours was 6,000 [10 classrooms X 15 seats X 40 hours]. The average weekly seat use hours is 30 [6,000 / (10 classrooms X 20 seats)].

 

Table 2
Class Lab Utilization
Fall 1996, 1997, and 1998 (JMU Only in 1997 and 1998)

Institution

Weekly Hours of Room Use
Standard = 24

Percent of Occupancy
Standard = 75%

Weekly Hours of Seat (Station) Use
Standard = 18

Doctoral      
George Mason

26

69%

18

Old Dominion

33

72%

24

University of Virginia

19

51%

10

Virginia Commonwealth

26

75%

20

Virginia Tech

20

70%

14

William & Mary

19

77%

15

Comprehensives      
Christopher Newport

16

72%

11

Clinch Valley

13

79%

10

James Madison 1996

26

77%

20

James Madison 1997

25

78%

20

James Madison 1998

29

82%

23

Longwood

13

79%

10

Mary Washington

12

84%

10

Norfolk State

11

79%

9

Radford

18

94%

17

Virginia Military

7

40%

3

Virginia State

9

80%

7

Two Year Institutions      
VCCS

26

79%

20

Richard Bland

13

84%

11

How many instructional spaces and how much assignable square feet does JMU have by type of space (classroom, class lab, etc.)?

Higher education institutions are like small cities. A variety of spaces must exist on a campus to enable the institution to carry out its mission. The Office of Institutional Research inventories each space and annually reports to SCHEV its use. Each type of space in the inventory is coded with a unique room use code. Table 3 shows the room use code, the room use definition, and the number of rooms and assignable square feet by type of space that are used primarily for instruction.

Table 3
Instructional Space, Fall 1998

Room Use Code

Description of Space

Seats/Stations

Square Feet

Number of Rooms

110

CLASSROOM

5,833

95,151

119

115

CLASSROOM SERVICE

4,221

53

210

CLASS LAB

1,059

39,561

37

215

CLASS LAB SERVICE

17,143

93

220

OPEN LAB

1,969

73,597

139

225

OPEN LAB SERVICE

8,814

80

250

RESEARCH LAB

242

21,125

61

255

RESEARCH LAB SERVICE

916

8

What is the profile of instructional space use by day and time for Fall 1997? How efficiently was this space used? Do there appear to be times when additional classes could be added?

Table 4 shows the number of sections in classrooms or laboratories by day and time period each section is in session. The number of sections is the sum of sections fully meeting during an hour block and those meeting partially during a block. For example, if a class meets during the first half-hour, it gets 30 minutes for that hour. The data from 1995 through 1998 show that classes are more likely in 1998 to be scheduled outside of the "prime time" of 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. In 1995 66 percent of schedule instruction occurred between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. By 1998 the percentage had decreased to 62 percent. In 1995 20.7 percent of instruction occurred either before 9:00 a.m. or between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. In 1998 the percentage increased to 22.8 percent. "Prime time" is still when faculty and students desire to teach and take classes, but some effort to expand the times when courses are taken has occurred. This trend should continue because it is difficult to find additional or appropriate classroom space between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., and deans have been encouraging the use of space at earlier and later times.

Friday is not scheduled as extensively as Monday through Thursday. In fact, the percentage of hours of instruction on Friday decreased from 11.6 percent in 1995 to 10.4 percent in 1998. On Friday a troubling phenomenon occurs in that some classes that could follow a M W F schedule instead follow a T Th schedule. In 1996 134 three- and four-credit courses met on Monday and Wednesday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. In 1998 this number increased to 146. One hundred and four (104) of the 1996 sections met for 100 minutes or less each day. In 1998 this number increased to 112. In 1996 44 of these 100-minute or less sections met between 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. In 1998 this number was 43.

These findings are similar to other institutions. A group of JMU staff visited the University of Virginia in June 1996 and found that UVA’s class meetings followed a very similar pattern. However, JMU class utilization rate is consistently higher.

Table 4
Number of Section Hours in Session
by Time Period and Day,
Fall 1998

Hour Beginning

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

TOTAL

7:00 AM

0

1

2

0

0

4

8:00 AM

101

133

104

129

77

544

9:00 AM

169

146

176

148

129

768

10:00 AM

171

159

178

161

122

791

11:00 AM

145

193

154

192

106

789

12:00 PM

121

145

121

145

94

626

1:00 PM

128

152

140

152

86

659

2:00 PM

144

209

155

195

72

775

3:00 PM

118

158

128

145

39

587

4:00 PM

94

149

104

139

12

498

5:00 PM

72

111

67

99

2

352

6:00 PM

61

74

60

56

0

251

7:00 PM

70

79

59

51

0

259

8:00 PM

51

56

43

30

0

180

9:00 PM

15

21

12

8

0

56

10:00 PM

1

1

0

1

0

3

 

1,461

1,786

1,504

1,652

739

7,141

Table 4 includes all sections that meet in classrooms, class labs, open labs, conference rooms, and some other spaces. Only classrooms and class labs are regularly scheduled for classes, but the need for additional instructional space requires that many sections meet in alternative space.

Tables 5 and 6 display classroom utilization by day and hour for the two major types of scheduled space of concern to SCHEV. The purpose of the tables is to show how often space is used during any time period. The calculations are section hours according to SCHEV’s criteria. A 50 minute class is considered to be one hour (50 X 1.2 = 60 minutes).

Table 5
Number of Classroom Section Hours in Session
by Time Period and Day,
Fall 1998

Hour Beginning

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Total

7:00 AM

-

-

2

-

-

2

8:00 AM

70

98

73

99

62

402

9:00 AM

107

91

107

93

90

489

10:00 AM

106

100

109

101

89

506

11:00 AM

91

131

95

130

80

527

12:00 PM

80

94

80

98

73

425

1:00 PM

82

99

86

101

65

432

2:00 PM

85

128

91

123

55

481

3:00 PM

74

92

79

88

29

361

4:00 PM

60

96

64

87

7

314

5:00 PM

47

82

44

67

2

241

6:00 PM

37

52

36

34

-

160

7:00 PM

45

54

40

32

-

171

8:00 PM

33

36

31

19

-

119

9:00 PM

12

14

11

5

-

42

10:00 PM

1

-

-

-

-

1

TOTAL

929

1,168

947

1,077

552

4,673

 

 

Table 6
Number of Class Lab Section Hours in Session
by Time Period and Day,
Fall 1998

Hour Beginning

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Total

7:00 AM

-

1

-

-

-

1

8:00 AM

14

15

15

15

9

69

9:00 AM

23

24

25

24

14

111

10:00 AM

28

24

29

22

16

120

11:00 AM

24

26

25

24

13

111

12:00 PM

15

22

18

20

10

85

1:00 PM

16

20

18

20

9

82

2:00 PM

26

30

26

27

9

117

3:00 PM

21

24

23

23

6

97

4:00 PM

18

19

19

21

3

80

5:00 PM

15

12

12

11

1

51

6:00 PM

13

12

12

14

-

51

7:00 PM

11

13

9

13

-

46

8:00 PM

7

9

7

8

-

31

9:00 PM

-

4

-

2

-

5

10:00 PM

-

1

-

1

-

1

Total

230

257

238

243

90

1,057

Classrooms (110) are rooms used for classes and that are not tied to specific subject or discipline by equipment in the room or the configuration of the room.

Class Laboratories (210) are rooms used primarily for formally or regularly scheduled classes that require special purpose equipment or a specific room configuration for student participation, experimentation, observation, or practice in an academic discipline.

 

Table 7
Percent Utilization by Room Type and Building,
Fall 1998

Room Use*

Building

Rooms

Total Hours

Use Rate (Hours)

Total Seats

Total Headcount

Percent Utilized

110

ANTHONY-SEEGER

5

242.40

48.48

3,047

1,881

61.7%

110

BRIDGEFORTH STADIUM

1

18.00

18.00

210

149

71.0%

110

BURRUSS HALL

16

689.80

43.11

11,189

8,633

77.2%

110

CISAT MODULAR

4

66.50

16.63

950

566

59.6%

110

DUKE HALL

3

123.60

41.20

2,880

2,361

82.0%

110

GODWIN HALL

7

228.20

32.60

4,609

3,498

75.9%

110

HARRISON HALL

4

132.10

33.03

4,233

2,977

70.3%

110

HARRISON ANNEX

3

116.80

38.93

3,140

1,630

51.9%

110

ISAT/CS BUILDING

9

300.30

33.37

6,946

5,120

73.7%

110

JACKSON HALL

11

471.70

42.88

5,978

4,451

74.5%

110

JOHNSTON HALL

1

27.00

27.00

360

190

52.8%

110

KEEZELL HALL

10

455.60

45.56

5,777

3,384

58.6%

110

MAURY HALL

7

268.20

38.31

4,159

2,510

60.4%

110

MILLER HALL

4

148.20

37.05

5,100

3,528

69.2%

110

MOODY HALL

6

219.10

36.52

4,045

2,803

69.3%

110

ROOP HALL

8

358.30

44.79

3,931

2,327

59.2%

110

THEATRE II

2

37.00

18.50

485

286

59.0%

110

ZANE SHOWKER HALL

18

791.70

43.98

14,558

12,251

84.2%

SUBTOTAL

119

4,694.50

39.45

82,475

58,545

71.0%

210

ASHBY HALL

2

81.60

40.80

325

271

83.4%

210

BURRUSS HALL

5

162.40

32.48

1,212

935

77.1%

210

DUKE HALL

6

183.00

30.50

659

605

91.8%

210

ISAT/CS BUILDING

5

92.00

18.40

1,296

1,086

83.8%

210

MILLER HALL

8

219.60

27.45

2,006

1,547

77.1%

210

MUSIC BUILDING

9

247.70

27.52

3,693

3,138

85.0%

210

ROOP HALL

2

73.80

36.90

530

411

77.5%

SUBTOTAL

37

1,060.10

28.65

9,790

7,993

81.6%

Table 7 displays the average hours of use and utilization percentages by building for classroom and labs. The average hours were calculated by dividing the total teaching hours by total rooms. The percentages were calculated by dividing the number of students in a class by the total available seats. Sometimes a room has more students than official seats because unfixed seats sometimes "move" between rooms as needed by a particular class. The results show that more than two-thirds of all seats were filled for each type of space. The utilization of classroom space varied by building with Zane Showker Hall and Duke Hall having the highest classroom seat utilization. The utilization of class lab space varied by building with Ashby Hall and Roop Hall having the highest classroom seat utilization.

Discussion

At a rapidly growing institution like JMU the acquisition of facilities and efficient use of these facilities is a continuing concern. This is especially true as the university grew by 2,487 on-campus students between Fall 1995 and Fall 1998. This study of facilities at JMU focused on how instructional space was used weekly during Fall 1998. Below are the major conclusions of this study.

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