Apr 102008

With summer registration underway, several faculty members say students enrolling in summer classes can expect a new experience not commonly found during the regular academic school year.

Blane Harding, the director of academic advising, said the smaller class sizes during the summer give students a greater opportunity to participate in discussion with one another and to thoroughly understand the course material.

He said that while summer courses can be intense, a system of two-hour classes for five days a week often makes it easier for students to see relations between concepts, ideas and theories.

“I think summer classes are more laid back,” he said. “Students want to participate more . there is more discussion in summer courses.”

Bill Chaloupka, a political science professor, will teach a four-week American government and politics class this summer. He said he is looking forward to having a class of no more than 65 students, which during the regular academic year would be in a lecture hall with twice as many students.

“It gives me a chance to get to know more of the students individually,” he said. “It makes it possible for us to have class with discussion.”

Another benefit Chaloupka said is the less hectic schedule students normally have during the summer.

“The big advantage of it is you are just balancing one or two topics rather than five or six during the regular semester,” he added. “I think the focus is really good.”

Martin Gelfand, a physics professor who teaches an eight-week summer physics course, agreed that students can concentrate more on material covered in class since students generally don’t take a full load of credits.

“(There is) more focus on the class, which isn’t possible during the regular academic year,” he said. “They can focus on it more exclusively.”

Gelfand said he is an avid supporter of summer classes and thinks their format is a benefit to students’ learning.

“I wish more classes were done like the summer classes,” Gelfand said. He said that summer classes are intense due to the material being covered in double or triple the time, but that the smaller and more personable class sizes make it easier for students to ask questions during and after class.

Also offered during the summer are weekend seminars, which are particularly popular among students with full-time jobs during the week but that still want to enroll in a three-credit course.

“They can work full-time during the week,” said Dominic Brewer, who will teach a weekend seminar in forensic psychology.

The classes go form 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and only have two weekend sessions out of one month. Due to the full-day structure, Brewer said he incorporates various activities between lectures to maintain students’ interest.

“Because it’s eight hours, I try to make a variety of things they are exposed to, so they don’t fall asleep,” Brewer said.

To supplement lectures, Brewer said he brings in guest speakers and shows interesting documentary films throughout each day.

Paul Bell, who will teach a conflict resolution weekend seminar, said his class is relaxed and very interactive. Every half-hour to 45 minutes, he has students actively demonstrate the points they learn during the lecture.

“It’s not a straight lecture class,” he said. “We call it an experiential class.”

Bell said his students will have one writing assignment, a test and the rest of the grade is based off participation and attendance.

Summer classes begin May 14 and will last until August 8. Sessions are four, eight or 12 weeks long, with weekend seminars being an exception.

Senior Reporter Kaeli West can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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