As lecture theatres are primarily used for teaching and learning it’s essential that the design of these spaces is conducive to these activities.
Students need to remain engaged throughout a lecture if they are to be effective learners so it’s essential they are comfortable, have enough work and personal space and can properly see and hear the information being presented to them.When choosing lecture theatre seating there are a number of key features that should be considered in order to facilitate these requirements.
Lecture theatres built in an auditorium style with rows of tiered seating provide an optimum view for all students whether they are on the front or back row.If seats are all on a level floor then it’s inevitable that not everyone will have a clear view – this causes both a distraction and an inconvenience. The importance of having a tiered or sloped floor cannot be under-estimated, particularly in large lecture theatres.
The seats need to be comfortable with enough space to accommodate a range of users. Hard or uncomfortable seats will cause students to shuffle around and be more focussed on their discomfort than what is being taught. If the seats are comfortable then students won’t even need to think about them and their minds will be free to concentrate on the subject in hand. For wheelchair users there needs to be ease of access – a bank of removable seats and/or desks is common in many lecture theatres to allow space for wheelchairs when required.
As students will likely need to take notes or use electronic equipment during a lecture, it’s important there is sufficient workspace for them to do this. Most lecture theatre seats can be supplied with rows of fixed desks or individual flip-up writing tablets. Which option is best will be dependent on the subjects being taught and the amount of equipment students will be required to use. It’s important to ensure students have enough space for the requirements of the lecture.
Students also need space for their belongings, whether this is under the seats or in some form of storage unit that is incorporated. It needs to be easy for them to access and be secure so that items cannot get trapped or fall behind the seats. Without this bags and coats can get in the way and cause a potential trip hazard.
When specifying seating it’s important to think about the needs of the students and the requirements of the subjects being taught rather than just looking at the aesthetics of a seat and choosing it on looks alone. If each of these elements is taken into consideration it will help to ensure that the lecture theatre seating is designed to enhance learning.