ASPIRE

200 Laboratory Facilities

A laboratory is a facility characterized by special purpose equipment or a specific space configuration that limits instructional or research activities to a particular discipline or a closely related group of disciplines. These activities may be individual or group in nature, with or without supervision. Laboratories may be found in all fields of study including letters, humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, vocational and technical disciplines, etc.

The nature of laboratory experiences has changed in many disciplines with the introduction of computer simulation in combination with, or as replacement of, the old “wet lab” experience in both natural and social sciences. Curricular intent should be considered as well as the physical structure of the space.

Laboratory facilities can be subdivided into three categories: class, open, and research/nonclass laboratory. A class laboratory is used for scheduled instruction. An open laboratory supports instruction but is not formally scheduled. A research/nonclass laboratory is used for research, experimentation, observation, research training, or structured creative activity that supports extension of a field of knowledge. Institutions may wish to further distinguish various types of class, open, and research/nonclass laboratories through the use of extension or special codes.

Note: Within comprehensive research universities, it is difficult to draw precise lines between instruction and research activities. At institutions with medical and health science programs, it is even more complicated because of the difficulty in distinguishing between patient care and instruction or research activities. The problem of joint activities makes the classification of space more difficult.

The complexity of “research” and how it may affect space use classification decisions needs discussion at the institutional level. In general, there are four categories of research/nonclass activities: externally budgeted or funded projects or centers; separately organized centers or projects that are funded from institutional resources; departmental research activities that are neither separately budgeted or organized; and creative and intellectual activities of faculty in some disciplines that are the equivalent of departmental research (e.g., visual and performing arts are common examples).

When this complexity exists, institutions may elect to use standard space use codes for laboratories, office space, etc., and rely upon the actual activities of the faculty and staff housed within the space to determine the distinction between instruction and research. The space inventory data elements include a designation of function as a separate code for each space. If combined with financial and activity information, the combination of function and space use code can accurately represent allocations of space for research more effectively and accurately than reliance upon only the space use code.

210 Class Laboratory

Definition: A space used primarily for formally or regularly scheduled instruction (including associated mandatory, but non-credit-earning laboratories) that require special purpose equipment or a specific space configuration for student participation, experimentation, observation, or practice in an academic discipline. A space is considered to be scheduled if the activities generate weekly student contact hours (WSCHs), the activities fulfill course requirements, and/or there is a formal convener present.

Description: A class laboratory is designed for or furnished with equipment to serve the needs of a particular discipline for group instruction in formally or regularly scheduled classes. This special equipment normally limits or precludes the space’s use by other disciplines. Included in this category are spaces generally called teaching laboratories, instructional shops, computer laboratories, drafting rooms, band rooms, choral rooms, (group) music practice rooms, language laboratories, (group) studios, theater stage areas used primarily for instruction, instructional health laboratories, and similar specially designed or equipped rooms, if they are used primarily for group instruction in formally or regularly scheduled classes. Computer rooms used primarily to instruct students in the use of computers are classified as class laboratories if that instruction is conducted primarily in formally or regularly scheduled classes.

Limitations: Does not include Classrooms (110). Does not include informally scheduled or unscheduled laboratories (see Open Laboratory-220). This category does not include spaces generally defined as Research/Nonclass Laboratories (250). It does not include gymnasia, pools, drill halls, laboratory schools, demonstration houses, and similar facilities that are included under Special Use Facilities (Code 500 series). Computer rooms in libraries or used primarily for study should be classified as Study Rooms (410). 

215 Class Laboratory Service

Definition: A space that directly serves one or more class laboratories as an extension of the activities in those spaces.

Description: Includes any space that directly serves a class laboratory. Included are projection rooms, telecommunications control booths, coat rooms, preparation rooms, closets, material storage (including temporary hazardous materials storage), balance rooms, cold rooms, stock rooms, dark rooms, equipment issue rooms, etc., if they serve class laboratories.

Limitations: Does not include service spaces that support a Classroom (see 115), Open Laboratory (see 225), or a Research/Nonclass Laboratory (see 255). Animal Facilities (570), Greenhouse (580), and Central Service (750) facilities are categorized separately. 

220 Open Laboratory

Definition: A laboratory used primarily for individual or group instruction that is informally scheduled, unscheduled, or open.

Description: An open laboratory is designed for or furnished with equipment that serves the needs of a particular discipline or discipline group for individual or group instruction where 1) use of the space is not formally or regularly scheduled, or 2) access is limited to specific groups of students. Included in this category are spaces generally called music practice rooms, language laboratories used for individualized instruction, studios for individualized instruction, special laboratories or learning laboratories (e.g., speech, hearing, law, psychology, and health-related professions) if discipline restricted, individual laboratories, and computer laboratories involving specialized restrictive software or where access is limited to specific categories of students. For example, a computer laboratory with only engineering or CAD software or a computer-based writing laboratory available only to English Composition students would be classified as an open laboratory because of the restricted usage of the space for a particular discipline or discipline group. Spaces containing computer equipment that is not restricted to a specific discipline or discipline group are classified as Study Rooms (410) unless the primary intent is to function as a site for structured learning or group activities rather than individual knowledge acquisition.

Limitations: Laboratories with formally or regularly scheduled classes are classified as a Class Laboratory (210). This category also does not include spaces defined as Research/Nonclass Laboratory (250). A space that contains equipment (e.g., microcomputers), which does not restrict use to a specific discipline or discipline group and which is typically used at a student’s convenience, should be classified as a Study Room (410). 

225 Open Laboratory Service

Definition: A space that directly serves one or more open laboratories as an extension of the activities in those spaces.

Description: Includes only those spaces that directly serve an open laboratory. Included are projection rooms, telecommunications control booths, coat rooms, preparation rooms, closets, material storage (including temporary hazardous materials storage), balance rooms, cold rooms, stock rooms, dark rooms, equipment issue rooms, and similar facilities, if they serve open laboratories.

Limitations: Does not include service spaces that support a Classroom (see 115), Class Laboratory (see 215), or Research/Nonclass Laboratory (see 255). Animal Facilities (570), Greenhouse (580), and Central Service (750) facilities are categorized separately. 

250 Research/Nonclass Laboratory

Definition: A space used for laboratory experimentation, research, or training in research methods; professional research and observation; or structured creative activity within a specific program or for sponsored research (whether sponsored with federal, state, private, or institutional funds).

Description: A research/nonclass laboratory is designed or equipped for faculty, staff, and students for the conduct of research and controlled or structured creative activities. These activities are generally confined to faculty, staff, and assigned graduate students and are applicable to any academic discipline. Activities may include experimentation, application, observation, composition, or research training in a structured environment directed by one or more faculty or principal investigators. These activities do not include practice or independent study projects and activities that, although delivering “new knowledge” to a student, are not intended for a broader academic (or sponsoring) community (e.g., a presentation or publication). This category includes laboratories that are used for experiments, testing, or “dry runs” in support of instructional, research, or public service activities. Nonclass public service laboratories that promote new knowledge in academic fields (e.g., animal diagnostic laboratories, cooperative extension laboratories) are included in this category.

Limitations: Student practice activity rooms should be classified under Open Laboratory (220). A combination office/music or art studio or combination office/research laboratory should be coded according to its primary use if only a single space use code can be applied. Determination also should be made whether the “studio” or “research lab” component involves developing new knowledge (or extending the application or distribution of existing knowledge) for a broader academic or sponsoring community (and not merely for the practitioner), or the activity is merely practice or learning within the applied instructional process. Primary use should be the determining criterion in either case. Does not include testing or monitoring facilities (e.g., seed sampling, water or environmental testing rooms) that are part of an institution’s Central Service (750) system. Also does not include the often unstructured, spontaneous or improvisational creative activities of learning and practice within the performing arts that take place in (scheduled) Class Laboratories (210) or, if not specifically scheduled, (practice) Open Laboratories (220). Such performing arts (and other science and nonscience) activities, which are controlled or structured to the extent that they are intended to produce a specific research or experimental outcome (e.g., a new or advanced technique), are included in the Research/Nonclass Laboratory (250) category. 

255 Research/Nonclass Laboratory Service

Definition: A space that directly serves one or more research/nonclass laboratories as an extension of the activities in those spaces.

Description: Includes only those spaces that directly serve a research/nonclass laboratory. Included are projection rooms, telecommunications control booths, coat rooms, preparation rooms, closets, material storage, balance rooms, cold rooms, stock rooms, dark rooms, equipment issue rooms, temporary hazardous materials storage areas, and similar facilities, if they serve research/nonclass laboratories.

Limitations: Does not include service spaces that support a Classrooms (see 115), Class Laboratory (see 215), or Open Laboratory (see 225). Animal Facilities (570), Greenhouse (580), and Central Service (750) facilities are categorized separately.