Friday, May 21, 2021

Should we split standard 16-week semesters into two 8-week semesters?

Inside Higher Ed's "Confessions of a Community College Dean" blog posed this question recently. Matt Reed gives an excellent description of the plusses and possible challenges of such a move. He also comments that given the population community colleges tend to draw from, such a move could result in higher throughput and better student success.  I encourage all to read his blog post.

Apparently there has been little research on this, though several colleges are known to have moved to this format.

I took special note of this because in the spring 2021 semester I taught one section of Intermediate Algebra in the 16-week format and one section of the same course in an 8-week format. Same assignments, lecture notes, tests, same number of class meetings, etc. In other words, the two classes were taught identically, the only difference being the length of the "semester".

While two classes are obviously too small a sample to draw any conclusions, the difference in results was staggering:

The 16-week class

The 8-week class

I would love to hear any real world examples of schools that have gone to 8-week semesters and what the experience has been.

Monday, May 17, 2021

I'm Baaaaaack!

 It is hard to believe it has been 8 years since my last post.

A lot of things have happened, both personally and professionally. Some highlights and low lights ...


  • We moved into a great new house 6 years ago on small man-made lake. Much time and money has gone into decorating and remodeling both inside and outside.
  • During the last 5 years, we lost both of my parents, both of my in-laws, and our wonderful Husky, Mariah. We racked up the frequent flyer miles going coast to coast dealing with end-of-life issues for both sets of parents.
  • I am officially old, having turned 70 in 2017.


  • Five years ago, I accepted a fulltime teaching position at American River College in Sacramento, California.
  • I was recently granted tenure.

Of course both currently and in the recent past, we are all dealing with the coronavirus pandemic (more on this in a future post) and its effects on our personal and professional lives.

Here in California, we mathematics instructors are also dealing with the legislator's AB-705, which basically outlawed remedial education and it's fallout. The legislature decided they knew more about teaching mathematics and English then the professionals. When this happens, it almost never turns out well. 

That's it for today. I have grand plans for the future of this blog, but then I also had grand plans 8 years ago.