Monday, December 15, 2014

The Perils of a M/W/F Class

The Duck of Minerva
December 5th, 2014


Greetings, fellow Duck readers.  I realize I’ve been MIA this semester – DGS duties and ISA-Midwest stuff took too much of my non-research time.  Another factor in my absence, however: a Monday Wednesday Friday schedule. And, it sucked.[1]  Like large-tornado-near-my-hometown sucked.  Today marks the last Friday class of the semester – thank god.[2]  Even though I should be getting back to research this morning, I wanted to write a little bit about why I think 50 minute/3 day a week classes should be banned in our discipline.

  • Let’s take a lesson from the educators: longer class periods that do not meet as often have some advantages for climate and learning.
My significant other, who teaches middle school science, has taught in schools where class periods are 40, 50, and 90 minutes in length.  And, my SO’s preference is strongly for longer class periods.  This preference is in line with a lot of the peer-reviewed research on block scheduling (one of the ways where students have longer class periods that do not meet as often in secondary schools).  Zepeda and Mayers (2006) reviewed 58 previous academic studies on the issue and, although they find very inconsistent results across the studies, they do find that there were improvements in “student grade point averages” and “school climate” when students were on block schedules. Queen (2008)’s handbook  on the topic also reviews the academic literature with a positive take–away point for block scheduling. There are a lot of new dissertations on the topic, however, with very different results across disciplines.  Although I’m not an expert on the topic, the logic that longer class periods allow for more diversity in teaching techniques makes a lot of intuitive sense.

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