The design of the First-Year Writing Program’s Flexible Classrooms was highly influenced by active learning and social constructionist pedagogies. We were inspired by the SCALE-UP (Student-Centered Active Learning Environment with Upside-down Pedagogies) model of classroom design, which was founded by Physics Professor Robert Beichner and his colleagues at North Carolina State University. Our design differs from the initial SCALE-UP model, as it includes furnishings that are mobile versus fixed. In addition, students use their own laptop computers in our flexible classrooms.
Our first-year writing course is capped at 18 students per section. This class cap is valuable for all student writers, but a smaller class size is especially important for classes that meet in the flex classrooms. More square footage is needed in a flexible space to allow for the mobility needed to achieve a variety of layouts and give students adequate personal space as required by NC State’s design standards. Adequate space is also crucial for meeting the needs of our students with disabilities who use assistive devices for mobility.
The first flexible classroom initiative was started in 2011 and was led by then-doctoral student Dana Gierdowski, who researches the impact of learning spaces on teaching and learning. Members of the design team included Justin Daves, CHASS IT Director; Bob Kadle, Instructional Technology Support Analyst; Angela Lord, Classroom Program Manager; and Susan Miller-Cochran, Professor of English and Director of First-Year Writing.
Today, the flexible classrooms are the subject of ongoing research conducted by Dana Gierdowski, who is now a Teaching Assistant Professor of English at NC State.
Follow the links below for images and a list of technical specifications and resources that are included in each of the flexible classrooms.