At the start of this spring semester, Pacific University’s Faculty Task Force met to discuss problems with Winter / January term and suggest ideas for improving its effectiveness. Last year’s task force proposed several main features of a revised January term, and now the decision process is continuing to more forward.
The largest change can be noted by an elongated study timeline. The term will now be three weeks, and will allow for one, two or four-credit classes to be offered. The four-credit courses offered will vastly outnumber the two-credit courses.
This will allow more opportunities for other faculty members to offer their classes. The new four-credit schedule also allows two slots for two-credit courses. Students could participate in their two-credit class in the second half of January if they wish to return from winter break at a later date.
Most of these proposed changes are occurring so the university can hopefully increase student and faculty participation in January term.
Over the past five years, the percentage of College of Arts and Science undergraduates participating in the term has remained below 50 percent with the exception of Winter 2016, according to Rich Van Buskirk, chair of the Calendar Task Force.
As detailed, four-credit courses could meet for three hours over the course of 14 days, with an additional day for finals. This is compared to the current three hours over 10 days schedule, with an additional day for finals for two-credit courses.
The ideal combination of class meeting time and number of meeting days is still being discussed by the task force.
“I think that the notion of fitting a 4 credit class that meets twice a week for 16 weeks into a 3 week class is similar to fitting an elephant through a doorway,” Professor Tyler Brumfield said. “As someone who teaches courses that involve the generation, development execution and critique of creative ideas, I think the pace would be far too quick for deep learning to occur.”
Starting earlier in January with the four-credit courses also provides benefits for student athletes, who are on campus participating in or preparing for their season.
“As long as the workload is manageable during the busy preseason, I think four credit classes can be a great help for students looking to knock out some important classes while here for the winter,” sophomore baseball player Ryan Krout said. “I think it would be very advantageous not only for student athletes, but for all students in general to have four-credit January term options.”