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Academic spaces in colleges and universities span classrooms for 10 students to lecture halls that hold over 600 people. During the break between consecutive classes, students from the first class must leave and the new class must find their desks, regardless of whether the room holds 10 or 600 people. Here we address the question of how the size of large lecture halls affects classroom-turnover times, focusing on non-emergency settings. By adapting the established social-force model, we treat students as individuals who interact and move through classrooms to reach their destinations. We find that social interactions and the separation time between consecutive classes strongly influence how long it takes entering students to reach their desks, and that these effects are more pronounced in larger lecture halls. While the median time that individual students must travel increases with decreased separation time, we find that shorter separation times lead to shorter classroom-turnover times overall. This suggests that the effects of scheduling gaps and lecture-hall size on classroom dynamics depends on the perspective—individual student or whole class—that one chooses to take.


© 2023 the Author(s), licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (

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