by Juan Lachapelle | published Feb. 17th, 2014
While most students were using their month off from school for rest and relaxation, a select few opted to take another available opportunity: intersession classes. Starting on January 2 and ending on January 22, students had the opportunity to take a single class in a short-yet-intense three week format consisting of five-days-a-week, three-hour classes. This style of teaching was not possible back in the quarter system and is the first time RIT is attempting it.
The selection for teachers and classes started last year with a variety of training sessions for interested teachers. Professors that wanted to teach a class had to submit a proposal to be approved. The small group also held “bootcamp” sessions in the summer to generate ideas and foresee possible obstacles/opportunities for the different classes.
Bernadette Lanciaux, instructor for the College of Science, taught Introduction to Statistics I during the intersession. She had taught the same class during the fall and one of the instant differences she noticed was the class size. She had ten students during intersession (there is a max of 15 students per class) compared to 100 students during the fall. “It’s a completely different teaching [and] learning experience,” she said. “I could do things I could never do with 100 [Statistics] I students.” The students did various assignments with data sets they constructed, allowing them to apply some real world experience into the class.
Another benefit of the small group allowed her to easily see who understood the material and who needed the additional help. The long class hours allowed her to give that help during class. None of her students failed or withdrew from the class and some went on to take Statistics II in the Spring semester.
Elizabeth Reeves O’Connor, Senior lecturer in the Department of Communications under the College of Liberal arts, taught Public Speaking as an intercession class in a very different format compared to the semester class. The 3-hour block allowed her to be involved in the process of her students speech writing to give them instant feedback and an insight in their thought process.
She also had the opportunity of using any classroom, lab or space on campus for use. She took advantage of this by booking entire floors for students to practice speeches and gain feedback. For important assignments, she booked auditoriums for students to gain a better understanding of speaking to groups.
Both Lanciaux and Reeves O’Connor were very pleased with the results and got very positive feedback from students. A change that was suggested was having separate graders for assignments as the intensity of the schedule can get tiring. If given the opportunity, they would both teach an intersession class next year.
Alec Satterly, a second year Management major, took Lanciaux’s class in order to take Statistics II during the Spring semester rather than wait until next year. He enjoyed the class size and the opportunity to seek direct help when he needed it. He stated that the intense workload did not stop once he got home; he often had very long assignments lasting a few hours. This caused a lot of stress for him and other students that also had jobs while taking the class. Even so, he said he would choose to take another intersession class next year and recommends others to do the same. “For students that like the fast pace and like quarters better than semesters, you should definitely take it.”