Capacity is a key performance indicator because it measures how fully the College is utilizing both its physical resources (classrooms) and the financial resources that support our schedule of classes. Tracking how efficiently these resources are being used will help the College focus upon ways to improve our scheduling, providing the same level of education at a lower cost.
Room Capacity Report
The intent of the Room Capacity Report is to show the percentage of utilization for each LRCC classroom and lab over a five day week from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm. A particular classroom, for example that is used five days a week at the 8:00 am hour would have a utilization rate of 100%. A classroom that is only used two days a week at the 8:00 am hour would have a utilization rate of 40%.
The report consists of two sheets, one for the Turner Building and the other for the Center for Arts & Technology. At the bottom of each column is the average utilization for each of our 34 classrooms and labs. On the right of the first page, in a column labeled "totals," is the average utilization of all classrooms by hour. At the bottom of that column is the average utilization of all classrooms over the five day, thirteen hour a day schedule. For the Spring 2010 semester that average utilization is 46%.
This data allows the College to examine room utilization patterns throughout the day and the week and to identify any areas where space might be used more efficiently. The data also allows the college to track its efforts to improve performance in terms of its room utilization over time.
Theoretically, if every classroom and lab were used for thirteen hours a day, Monday through Friday, our room utilization would be 100%. That level of utilization is impossible, however, for a number of reasons:
- Only 10 of our 34 classrooms and labs are truly general purpose. While several of our specialized classrooms, such as computer labs, may be appropriate for certain other uses, the majority of them are not. An automotive, biological science, or pottery lab is simply not suitable for other use.
- Our "block scheduling" of three-hour classes that meet once a week, is popular with our students, many of whom live a considerable distance from the campus. However, "block scheduling" creates challenges in terms of efficiency. If a class runs 9:00 to 12:00 on a Monday, for example, the 8:00 hour on that day is also effectively blocked out.
- Afternoon classes tend to run from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm and evening classes from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. The schedule between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm is comparatively light.
- No classes are scheduled Friday after 4:00 pm because of students' lack of interest. Therefore the highest possible evening utilization is 80%
- No classes are scheduled for the 12:00 hour on Tuesday or the 11:00 hour on Wednesday to allow participation in a variety of student activities.
- LRCC is currently offering several credit classes on Saturday, but these are not included in the calculations
- Workforce Development Classes are not included in the calculations. Those non-credit, short-term classes are fit into the existing room schedule where space is available.
Schedule Capacity Report
The Schedule Capacity Report compares the actual number of students enrolled in each class with the maximum class size that has been established for that particular course. The report shows the percentage of capacity for each section, but also includes program, department, and college percentages as benchmarks.
The maximum class size is established by considering the subject matter and pedagogical approach for each course as well as safety issues and physical constraints such as computer or lab stations and classroom size. Certain courses will often be well below the maximum class size. Courses in physics, calculus, or advanced accounting, for example, are necessary to the curriculum but likely to have smaller enrollments, as will many second year courses in technical programs.
The College will never approach 100% in terms of schedule capacity because as classes fill we will always want to add more classes in order to accommodate demand. Nevertheless, performance improvements in this area are very feasible and make a significant difference in terms of the resources available for personnel, equipment, and staff development.
By tracking improvements in room capacity and schedule capacity over time and by being able to compare data from program to program, the College will be able to improve its efficiency without sacrificing educational quality.