T1: Class Meeting Patterns

Registrar definitions.
CALS interpretation.
Meeting Time Stats for Ugrad Courses


Study Questions

  1. Should a path be cleared for more 75-minute pattern?
  2. How do we encourage more early morning teaching and more teaching on Mondays and Fridays?
  3. Should restrictions be placed on the type of class that can use the 2.0, 2.5, and 3.0 hour slots?

Posted comments are totally anonymous.

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8 thoughts on “T1: Class Meeting Patterns

  1. As a student in high school, I attended 90 minutes classes which allowed for enough time to explore one topic in-depth. answer questions, and perform relevant activities. I was told that I should expect long lectures in college as well and was surprised to learn that they were so short.

  2. The ongoing initiative to require morning all laboratory times to start at 8am puts an enormous strain on the staff and teaching assistants in our department who supervise these courses (requiring them to arrive at 7:15am to do setup, and stay until 5:30pm or later for takedown of the afternoon labs plus office hours).

  3. Traveling to give a talk without missing a class is VERY hard when only M/W/F and T/R course slots available. 75 minute classes on M/W or W/F would make balancing teaching and research hugely easier. For graduate classes where we still use chalk (gasp), 75 minutes is preferable to 50 minutes. You just run out of time to work through the derivation at a reasonable pace with time for discussion.

  4. My department’s greatest issue with canonical hours is the new hurdles, if not outright prohibition, against upper division (3000- and 4000-level) courses that meet just one day a week.

    1) First, it’s poor pedagogy to force all classes into the 2 or 3-day per week format. Some topics and courses require extended discussion time. “Active learning” takes more time to cover the same material than it would in a conventional lecture, and for many “AL” activities, it takes longer than 75 minutes to introduce the concept, explain the activity, do the activity, and then debrief afterwards. Similarly, in-depth reading and discussion of complex texts, as is common in upper division humanities and social science courses, requires more than 75 minutes. We’re selling our undergraduates short if we think they can’t handle longer sessions.

    2) In small departments with few instructors and large demand for lower-division courses (often as “service” teaching to non-majors), the only way to offer meaningful numbers of upper-division courses to majors and intellectually ambitious non-majors is to offer co-meeting 4000/6000 level courses. The co-meeting courses can be fabulous experiences for the undergraduates, who benefit from being in graduate-level discussions, from the greater writing and primary research expectations typical of graduate seminars, and from seeing what graduate school is like. It’s unreasonable to think that departments will shift to teaching 4000/6000 level courses two days a week to meet stricter rules around canonical hours for undergraduates; instead, most departments will just eliminate the 4000-level component of the course and, if necessary to ensure sufficient enrollments, teach the graduate course every other year instead of annually. This doesn’t help anyone: undergrads and grad students have fewer options, faculty have to have more prepped courses in their stable.

    3) One-day-a-week courses are more efficient. Consider the choice between two 75 minute sessions and one 165 minute session (75 minutes X 2, plus 15 minutes to match the 15 minutes between courses in Cornell’s typical schedule). Even if you give students 15 minutes of break time in the 165 minute session, it will have less “wastage” — talking about logistical issues, getting all students to speak, the inevitable time at the end of class when students stop listening and start putting away their stuff — than in two 75 minute sessions.

    4) It takes no more classroom time to offer a 150 (or 165, with the break) course one day a week than two 75 minute courses separated by a break.

    On a different issue, of courses that meet after 5:30 pm: because of demographic shifts in the PhD population, a growing share of our PhD students have primary family care obligations. It’s not “family friendly” to require these grad students to TA evening courses, but it’s also unfair to ask the students who don’t have kids to take up the slack.

  5. We need more MW time slots. Since so many classes are taught TR, there are too many overlaps. Is WF a possibility? For years now no one in my department has taught MWF, although they do take the early morning MW slot, since there are so few others. We need more creative thinking on this.

  6. More space should be cleared for extended class periods of all types — 75 minute or greater. I can think of very few classes that benefit from the 3x a week 50 minute format. Learning models have changed and the newer, more interactive formats, require time for discussion and feedback.

    Many faculty I know prefer the M-W 75 minute slots for teaching because it allows them to travel and/or devote part of the week to research. If you want more teaching on Mondays, allow more courses to be Monday-only courses. If you want more teaching on Fridays, there could also be W-F courses (like there are M-W courses), which would have the same benefits as M-W courses, or more Friday only courses.

    I think there should be fewer restrictions on longer courses because I think these allow for a different type of learning that is useful in many circumstances.

  7. Changes in teaching and how we assign faculty to courses require that we have the same class meeting times every day of the week. A 50 minute class is no longer sufficient to allow for in-class activities and exercises. Going to a 75-minute class schedule MTWR (with variations for labs and other atypical classes) would work best for our program.

    1. I do not believe the proposed solution is best for the students or the instructors. You have presented no evidence that the existing time periods are inadequate for the majority, nor have you provided any evidence that the proposal is “better.” Why 75 minutes? Why not 120 minutes? This seems like creating a emergency when none exists. Sound familiar?

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