Wednesday, November 12, 2014

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Back in the stone ages, when I was a student, it was pretty common to have class MWF from 3-4.  And not unheard of to have a lab on Friday from 2-5, even. 

It was common enough that the Geology department had a legendary course, Geology 500, which met every Friday at 5pm for departmental beer and chat.

In more recent times, Thursday has become the new Friday, and around here, at least, it's rare for us to have a class on Fridays that goes later than 2pm.  I taught a MWF 1-2pm course last semester, and the classroom wing was nearly empty except for me and my students. 

I feel the urges, too.  Most of us in my department can manage a "non-teaching" day during the week, working around our usual 11 credit hour load.  For folks on a MWF basic schedule, that usually means you choose either Tuesday or Thursday for the "non-teaching" day. 

Folks who teach most of their classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays usually choose either Monday or Friday for their "non-teaching" day; there are times when you can manage both, or sometimes one and Wednesday.  It's easy to see the appeal, isn't it?

Students, too, like the same scheduling, often.  That's especially true for students who try to fit a whole week of work into four days, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, to support themselves while they work at classes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  Or some of them like to "go home" a lot, and plan their schedules around those visits.  Or whatever.

I think there's been a mutual movement, with faculty and students both wanting more Tuesday/Thursday courses, and fewer courses late on Fridays.


Yesterday, I was advising a student and talking with him about what courses to take in the coming semester.  He's in a fairly rigid program, and has to take certain set general ed type courses.  So, he'd filled in his schedule, but was on the low side of credits for the semester, especially if he wants to graduate in a timely manner.

Here's what his schedule looked like:

Monday afternoon, late, three hours, upper level option for major.

Tuesday / Thursday, starting at 9:30, running three straight courses.

Every single course he needed, except for the Monday afternoon course, was only offered during those three prime slots on Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting at 9:30.  We looked at options for general ed courses, all T/T in the three prime slots.  We looked at program courses, all T/T in those prime slots.

So I looked.  And out of 40 some courses in my department from sophomore level up, only 10 are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and or Fridays.  (Some are a late evening one day a week, and I counted those).

I think we (including me) have done ourselves a world of hurt this semester by scheduling so many of our courses against each other.  In budget-driven times, I wonder if some of our courses are going to be cancelled, and those of us with contracts will suddenly be teaching more comp or something. 

Here are my fingers crossed for decent enrollment in my Chaucer course!

 


6 comments:

  1. We're actually going the other direction-- classroom space has become so tight that Friday is rapidly filling up, mostly with 3 hour blocks.

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  2. We can't schedule departmental courses in the same timeslot as another course until we've used every single timeslot in the system. This includes the four night slots (M-Th, 7-10) as well as other oddballs. There are fewer conflicts. On the other hand, there are not so many students excited by a schedule that requires them to come for a Monday/Wednesday 8:30-10 class and stick around for a Wednesday evening 7-10 course!

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  3. We have the competing classes too, and some people have "always" taught their classes at the same time, leaving people like me (the newest hire) to fit in my classes elsewhere. Humanities "always" is at 9 and 11 on MWF, so I typically want my other two classes on TH because it's nice having just one prep on MWF. But then, I run into my classes conflicting with other classes, and like this semester, my class gets canceled. Sigh. It really sucks. I see the negatives of Janice's scheduling above, but I also think that it's a much better solution for the students and the department when there are fewer conflicts possible.

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  4. Oh, don't get me started on this one. My colleagues think that their teaching schedule is all about them.

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  5. Oh hey, about assessment? That thing we did 3 years ago? They've changed their minds and want to do something completely new and different this year! Usually we get a 5-year lag.

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  6. Anonymous7:53 PM

    My department is the opposite - I'm the only one teaching upper div courses on Tuesday/Thursday. Unless there's a meeting my colleagues are only around MWF, and I get weird looks for offering to teach T/Th. At least we all work to avoid scheduling classes to compete with one another, and I at least try to coordinate with the faculty in other departments that teach in the same interdisciplinary programs I do.

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