For Auburn’s College of Education, having a building to call home has been only in hopes and dreams, but not for much longer.
The University has begun the early stages of planning the building, having recently selected an architectural group for the project.
Jenny Barton, the college’s assistant dean for administration, said that not much has been set in stone, as they are still trying to figure out what the college’s faculty and students want. While they know the building will be west of the poultry science building on P.O. Davis Drive, they don’t know how big the building will be or how much it will cost.
According to Barton, College of Education faculty are spread across seven buildings, including the Haley Center, Wallace Hall, Ramsey Hall and a leased space on Shug Jordan Parkway.
“With the growth of faculty promised by University President Steven Leath, there is a big need for office space,” Barton said. “If the College of Education faculty can have their own building, that frees up space for incoming faculty.”
Barton said she’s excited to see collaboration between faculty once the building is complete. Many engage in collaborative research, which is difficult given how dispersed they are.
The college invited students to give their perspective on what a home for the college should look like.
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Madison Strichik, junior in early childhood education, said students want more meeting spaces for collaboration. The only designated study space in the Haley Center is crowded and has limited seating, leaving some students to sit on the floor.
“I think having a space with more seating will invite educators to enjoy working towards their degree and bring more life and inspiration into the environment,” Strichik said.
Strichik said she and other students would like to see a space in the building dedicated to practicums and observations. When children are brought in during the summer for practicums, they are brought into colorless rooms with cinderblock walls and hard floors. Having developmentally appropriate learning environments has been proven to work better.
Students have also expressed interest in a makerspace in the building. Often, students have projects to create books, posters or handouts that they have to pay for out of their own pocket. A makerspace would provide the students with equipment and supplies for these tasks.
“We already know that most of us will be spending out-of-pocket money to provide for our students,” Strichik said. “Being drained by that while we’re studying is not a good start to being passionate and devoted to our careers.”
Barton said she thinks students would enjoy having Engaged Active Student Learning classrooms, like the ones in the Mell Classroom Building. EASL classrooms feature movable tables, chairs and whiteboards to encourage collaborative learning.
When Barton was in college, she was in large lecture halls where the professor was just talking to the students, which she didn’t respond well to.
“I want to get my hands dirty and get in there and do it,” she said.
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