I'll be teaching a senior level English seminar in the not so distant future, and I'm trying to decide on how to request it be scheduled. The two big options I'm considering are to schedule it as a 3 hour, once a week block, in the evening, or to schedule it as a regular 1 hour a week class, meeting MWF. I could also ask that it be scheduled for 1:15, twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. (Academic hours here are all 50 minutes, so a 3 hour block is really 150 minutes, and so forth. That gives everyone 10 minutes to get from one class to another.)
I'm already teaching one evening, three hour block class that term, and doing my athletic event, so that would mean three evenings out every week. That's do-able, especially since I would then ask to schedule my 5 hour writing class in the early afternoon or something. (It's 5 hours, but not necessarily an hour every day.) But it's also fine for me to teach mostly early in the day, with one evening class.
What I'm trying to figure out is what makes the most sense for our students.
I took three-hour night classes every night Monday through Thursday when I was working full time and going to a local community college. As a student, I had to be always focused for a long class, and that was difficult. It worked well for me because I was pretty much a red-hot at the time, but I know it didn't work well for every student. With a once a week class, if you get sick and miss a day, you've missed a week, and that hurts. And if you just aren't ready for class for some reason, that hurts. And being ready for all three hours of a class took good planning and effort.
So, my sense is that there are some down-sides from a student's point of view to a three hour class. For full time working folks, an evening class makes a lot of sense. Most of our students work part-time, and usually do classes during the days and fit work around, in the evenings, and on the weekends.
On the other hand, with a three hour session, you can really sink your teeth into stuff. That also seems to work well for the hour and fifteen minute session, but one of my university duties ties up Tuesdays pretty badly, so I couldn't teach my other classes on a Tuesday Thursday schedule; the combination would mean my teaching five days a week. (I like to avoid that, if I can.) An hour at a time means you break things into smaller chunks. That has it's upsides and downsides, too.
Upsides to the three hour chunk: Time to get a real discussion going. Time to work on things in class in a differently focused way. Once a week prep; I can keep track of a single conversation; once a week really focused grading when short assignments are due.
Downsides to a three hour chunk: A student who misses a day misses a LOT. Students have to be really prepared for every meeting; unprepared meetings would make for a just horrific class experience. Prep three days a week, spreads out the grading potentially.
As undergraduates, what were your experiences with longer class sessions? What upsides or downsides do you think I should think about that I haven't mentioned?