One class at a time

Community College Dean’s college runs a January intersession — one course for two intensive weeks — that’s a bit hit with students and faculty. Ninety percent complete the course. So the college is thinking about going intensive for the whole year.

A semester could be broken up into two seven-week terms or “in the most radical version, five three-week sessions in which students take one course at a time.”

 . . . students seem to do better when they have fewer balls to juggle at any given time. There’s something to be said for the “total immersion” model of a course, just as there is for a language. . . .  If the class meets several hours per day for three weeks, and it’s the only class you’re taking, then it’s possible to build a day-to-day continuity that’s much harder when the class is broken into 45 50-minute periods over four months.

Students who had to miss a few weeks would drop a single class. Working students and parents would have a simpler, more consistent schedule.

Of course, there would be complications, the dean concedes:

Science labs could be a real challenge, at least on a large scale. I’m not sure how it would work for courses that require the material to seep in slowly, like philosophy or literature.  The financial aid implications could be a headache . . .

But it’s hard to ignore the success rates for intensive, short-term classes, the dean concludes.

University of Phoenix uses the intensive model with five-week classes. Colorado College students also take one class at a time in three-week blocks.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON May 7, 2012

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