Assigning classes to classrooms is one of the most important responsibilities of any university. At UCLA, the process of assigning classes to rooms is a complex dance between the UCLA Registrar and the over 100 academic departments on campus, guided by UCLA Administrative Policy 870.
Types of Space
Adminstrative Policy 870 designates two types of classrooms on campus: general assignment classrooms and departmental classrooms.
Departmental classrooms are classrooms where the scheduling authority lies directly with a school or department. Departments that wish to schedule classes in these rooms have complete control over when and what courses are taught in these rooms. Examples of departmental classrooms include Boelter 3424, which houses the Computer Science M152A lab, all the classroms in Marion Anderson Hall (which belong to the Anderson School of Management), and Schoenberg Music Building 11001, which is under the School of Music. Generally, only classes offered by the department that owns a room are taught in that room, although there are occaisional exceptions to this rule – Chicano 10A was taught is Schoenberg 1100 in Winter 2020.
General assignment classrooms, as the name implies, are classrooms usable by any department. There are 192 GA classrooms on campus, from big lecture halls such as Moore 100 and Young CS50, to discussion rooms like Boelter 5514 and Bunche 2121. The ability to schedule classes in these classrooms is given to the Registrar's Office, which coordinates with departments in order to assign classes to rooms. The departments determine which courses to offer, how many sections, the time and duration, and the enrollment capacities of each class. The Registrar handles finding a room.
In order to schedule the thousands of classes that are offered each quarter in general assignment rooms, the Registrar uses a scheduling optimization program to assign sections to rooms. As per the rules of Policy 870, the optimizer starts by scheduling lectures in order of size from most seats to least, then schedules discussion sections in a similar size-based order.
However, roughly half of classes scheduled by the Registrar are scheduled before this optimizer can be run, due to historical agreements in place between the Registrar and individual departments. These priority arrangements with departments aren't publicly tracked and potentially hamper the Registrar's ability to most efficiently place classes.
Through the scraped data in this project, it's possible to identify which departments have agreements with the Registrar regarding certain classrooms.
Meltnitz 14092 is a departmental classroom that belongs to the Film & TV department. By graphing the number of courses taught in this room by subject area, we can observe that it's very rare for a course not offered by the Film & TV department to be taught in Meltnitz 1409.
Contrast that to Moore 100, the largest general assignment classroom on campus. Although there are still some departments that have scheduled more classes in Moore 100 than others, the difference between the top department and the other departments is nowhere near as stark as it was in the Melnitz chart. Most of the top departments of Moore 100 are also the largest departments of UCLA; it makes sense that they'd be utilizing the largest classroom on campus a fair amount.
Physics and Astronomy 1-425 is an interesting classroom. While it's technically a general assignment classroom, there seems to be a strong preference towards Physics courses being taught in the classroom. The difference between the top subject area, Physics, and the second, Statistics, is reminisent of the Melntiz graph, showing the extent of scheduling preference that agreements with the Registrar can give to departments.
A stipulation of Administrative Policy 870 is that departments cannot schedule more than 60% of their sections between 9am–3pm each day – "Prime Time", as the policy calls it. However, this part of the policy isn't currently enforced according to Associate Registrar Claire McCluskey.
This is reflected in the Winter 2020 schedule. Roughly 3/4ths of classes offered were scheduled during some part of Prime Time, 15% more than what Policy 870 allows.
Policy 870 additionally states that 20% of all classes offered should be scheduled on Fridays. In reality, only 11% of Winter 2020 sections were taught on Fridays – about half of the number of courses offered on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.