Cuesta College District Calendar Committee: faculty feedback on compressed calendar proposal

Cuesta College District Calendar Committee
Faculty feedback form on compressed calendar proposal
(fall semester 2013)
N = 96

Background: The District Calendar Committee would like to gauge faculty interest on considering a compressed calendar (wherein the students have more contact with instructors per day, for fewer days or weeks, with the same amount of instructional time as the existing 18-week calendar) at Cuesta College. Please answer the following question. Are you in favor of exploring a compressed calendar at Cuesta College?

Yes.  *************************
  ************************* [75]
No (leave semester length the same at 18 weeks).  ******************* [19]
No opinion/not sure.  ** [2]

The following are all of the optional comments to this survey, verbatim and unedited.
"The 18 week calendar is too long to keep the focus of students and material in my area could be covered in a shorter time frame."

"I'm on the fence. I can see the challenges in scheduling that a compressed calendar presents for nursing and science. Please take a look at the final report from Santa Rosa Junior College. They started their analysis in 2009 and have just forwarded their report to their union(s) and district negotiating teams. The link to the report is at the top of the following page: http://www.santarosa.edu/afa/senate_home.shtml."

"It is very difficult for our nursing division to compress our calendar."

"Many, if not most of our students have difficulty maintaining the focus required to be successfull for 18 weeks."

"I am speaking from a counselor's perspective and feel that more in-class time would leave less time in student's schedules to see counselors and other support people they need to be successful."

"I would consider all possible 16 week models, not necessarily trying to squeeze the same number of hours we currently teach in 18 weeks down to 16. In other words, do some schools teach 16 weeks with fewer hours than we do with 18? Is there a standard or required number of hours? Maybe there is another model with almost the same number of hours that would be easier to schedule. Either way it will require redesigning courses, and having the EXACT same number of hours will not necessarily be required to make it possible."

"The impact/contractual ramifications on service faculty."

"I think it's a great idea. A 16 week schedule makes the most sense."

"The evidence on attention spans suggests greatly diminishing returns for simply increasing contact time per instructional day. Moreover, for students juggling work and school, compressing the calendar often works to their disadvantage, as they would need to spend more hours in school in a given week, while also having more homework per week under a compressed schedule. I must enter a resounding 'No' vote on this one!"

"No concerns, just enthusiasm!!!"

"Align to semester CSU campuses."

"18 weeks is no longer cost effective. 3.0 unit lecture classes can easily be complete in 15 weeks"

"We should look closely at how other college's use the 16-week semester system. Has Cuesta lost students to Hancock because students prefer a shorter semester?"

"This sounds like another cost-cutting measure put forth by administrators and even some faculty who are fixated on the bottom line. While I understand we must live within our means and meet apportionment goals, education is not a business and trying to run a college like a business only does a disservice to our students. If it was cheap and easy to get an education, everyone would have a Ph.D., but they would be meaningless degrees. It is our responsibility as educators to teach our students critical thinking skills and to appreciate all aspects of their education because no one truly knows what will be relevant to their future daily lives and what will not, but all of it will contribute to a forward thinking society. Long story short, compressing the calendar so students can receive the Cliff Notes version of their education is wrong. Make no mistake, I understand that students will have the 'same amount of instruction per the 18-week calendar,' but they will not have the same amount of time to learn."

"Compressed calendar would impact our cycle in Student Services; which things would need to be shorter and a much quicker turn around will be required by the faculty which they can't meet the deadline today."

"I like the idea of fewer weeks for a class, but I am concerned that it will go too fast for my basic skills class."

"Although I thnk a compressed calendar will present challenges, I believe it will attract more students"

"16-week would be good for having more intersessions."

"No reservations or concerns. 18 weeks is WAY to long."

"It seems like we are one of the few colleges that have not already done this!"

"I encourage the committee to consider a 16-week calendar. Thank you!"

"We already have block classes of 2 1/2 hours each."

"I am in favor of a compressed calendar (16 weeks) IF the number of in-class contact (instructional) hours do not increase. Having more office hours time each week is fine though."

"I will send my comments under separate cover to the calendar committee: to many for this survey"

"I think that more information should be given to faculty regarding how much longer their classes would be on a given day in order to make an informed decision."

"I teach at night (most of our students work in the day), and our classes are very long (6:30-9:15pm) A compressed calendar would make the classes even longer, which I don't think would be good for students. There's only so much you can learn/absorb in one sitting."

"The room schedules are already impacted enough without adding time to each class period. I think the results of this survey will be overwhelmingly towards a short semester but that is because most faculty don't have experience with shorter semesters and scheduling rooms. Without providing an example of what the humanities forum or a math classroom might look like with a shortened semester, this survey is fatally flawed."

"Due to Cuesta's flex calendar we already have a 'compressed' calendar. Currently students (and instructors) are 'in-class' for only 16 weeks per semester (plus one week of finals). Cuesta Fall 2013: Note: Although there are 17 'calendar weeks' of instruction in the fall, for all practical purposes there are only 16 'instructional weeks' because there are five non-instructional days embedded in the 17 weeks: October 11, 14, 15 and November 28 and 29. Cuesta Spring 2014: In the spring semester the 16 'instructional weeks' are easily identifiable. I am curious to find out what a 15 week-semester at Cuesta would include. One week for flex? One week for finals? Leaving 13 weeks of instruction? After comparing actual 'instructional weeks' (excluding finals week) of various proposals it will be easier to make an informed decision. In my opinion, cutting 'instructional weeks' by one week (as Hancock seems to have done) and loosing flex time is not worth the trouble it may cause for some divisions."

"It's difficult enough to cover all of the topics in the COR in 18 weeks, less would be overwhelming for students."

"counselors/dsps etc."

"Align Cuesta with the majority of college semester schools. Cal Poly administration is saying that they will align to semesters by the end of the decade."

"Will all of the classes fit into existing rooms on Mon-Friday within a reasonable timeframe??"

"I would LOVE a 16 week calendar, an 18 week just drags on.... and on....."

"None at all! Our students need this!!!"

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