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.

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