Schedule to change in fall 2012

by Sam Dearden

A change class schedule will be introduced next fall at Simpson College, with 10 minutes added to Monday, Wednesday, Friday classes and 15 added to the Tuesday/Thursday classes. This new plan will increase the meeting hours from 150 to 180 hours, something that has been being discussed in faculty meetings for awhile.

“We started talking about (the proposed schedule) when the overall general curriculum changes were being discussed,” Senior Vice President and Academic Dean of Students Steve Griffith said. “The decision to change (the class schedule) happened last year in the fall. It was the last of the big changes anticipated.”

An increase in class credits was implemented this fall, making courses going from three credit hours to four. With this new class schedule, the added curriculum will have a chance to blossom.

“Back when I was a professor, 10 minutes at the beginning of class was spent on a summary of the last class meeting’s material and 10 minutes on recapping what you just went through that period,” Griffith said. “That gives only 30 minutes of time to teach students new material.”

Professors hope that this longer class schedule will allow them to expand on their teaching methods.

“We are going for more in-depth, more engaged leaning for students,” Professor and Chair of Communication and Media Studies Brian Steffen said. “This system will help accommodate the new four credit course at Simpson.”

With the extra time, there are many things professors could do to bring an advantage to students.

“There is a benefit to students, having a longer class meeting time, ” Steffen said. “(There is time for) experimental, hands-on learning. It will help the students engage in critical thinking, writing and group work.”

Some professors are looking forward to the longer class time to make the most out of their teaching styles.

“As my students can tell you, I try to cram a lot into a class period, so I’m looking forward to using this time to further explore, discuss and debate the material I’m covering,” said Rachel Bandy, assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice.

The uniqueness of the new schedule allows for a one hour slot from 1 to 2 p.m. four days of the week for SC 101 classes, which were previously known as LAS classes. On Wednesdays, there is a time slot for “Convocation and Faculty Meeting,” a time slot that is well-received by the Simpson community.

“The Convocation time would be where we would be able to have guest speakers and everyone who wants to on campus would have a chance to attend,” Griffith said. “There would be a ‘Convocation culture’ again, that shared experience that gets people talking about the guest who came to campus and what they learned from it.”

On the days there isn’t a Convocation planned, there are other ways to occupy that time on Wednesday afternoons.

“The time is designed for the chairs to meet with their departments,” Steffen said. “Tuesdays with a Professor could be fit into this time as well. It’s hard to get all the students to meet altogether during the day for a forum event. Right now, we have Student Government Association (SGA) liaisons meeting to raise questions and/or concerns for students in the student body.”

Steffen thinks the longer class period will be an opportunity for faculty to be more interactive in class.

“If the instructor is doing it right, (the new class schedule) will make classes fly by,” Steffen said. “There is now time to watch a video or incorporate more interactive material in the classes. The schedule now will make classes seem shorter.”

Even without the extra credit in the course curriculum, there is positive feedback on the longer schedule.

“I would advocate longer classes even without the curriculum change,” Griffith said.