Fourth Hour Survey Results Received

Last year, when 25% of University class time was cut, the universal lunch hour became class time, Moodle learning became the preferred supplement for the lost hour, and some class blocks became asymmetrical to encourage increased use of Friday classroom time, students and teachers were left grumbling. Now, dissatisfaction with Capilano University's current schedule format is evident in more than just informal discussion.

In early January of 2009, the Ad-Hoc Committee on Scheduling Evaluation (COSE) was formed “to determine, where possible, the impact of the new schedule on operations and learning conditions of the University, and to develop principles to guide future scheduling decisions.” The committee compiled their own discussion with the data from student and faculty surveys, to draft a report on the scheduling situation.

The draft of the committee’s report is just shy of 200 pages and is comprised of both numerical and qualitative data, as well as comprehensive information about the information collection process and recommendations from the committee. 

Rumblings throughout the school were generally negative at the time of the change, and the Courier reported in early January 2009 that “students and faculty members remain indignant” to the changes and lack of formal consultation prior to making the changes.

Those complaints have now been quantified. Only 5% of students who indicated a preference on the COSE-conducted survey stated that they preferred asymmetrical scheduling.

Teachers surveyed also acknowledged that the new scheduling system has made their jobs harder. The report also notes that “an overwhelming proportion of [faculty respondents] indicated that all selected aspects were at least somewhat more difficult this term compared with previous terms.” Indeed, 95 percent of faculty respondents felt that “covering essential course content adequately” is more difficult “compared with previous terms.”

Many feel that the change hurts the quality of education significantly. When asked “what aspects of the shift to centrally coordinated scheduling have been most beneficial to students [and faculty]” many of the open-ended qualitative responses were some variation on “I haven’t noticed any benefits at all.”

Members of the COSE also “expressed strong concerns about the loss of the fourth hour and the effect on educational quality.” However, the report indicates that “it has been generally accepted that space needs drove the change and that any attempt to revert back to the two-hour format would negatively affect our ability to accommodate students.”

The survey notes that students registered prior to the Spring 2008 term preferred two hour blocks, students who registered more recently (after the changes were made) preferred one and a half hour classes.

Although diagrams in the document show that symmetrical scheduling (having all classes on Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday at identical times) would not result in a loss of classroom utilization hours, the asymmetrical blocks increase use of classroom space on Fridays. According to the recommendations, COSE determined that having Friday classes meet once per week (in three hour blocks) was not favorable, however no student or faculty input on this matter was indicated.

Much of the scheduling adjustments were made to encourage Friday classes, however students have indicated a preference for a Monday through Thursday week to allow “for study time, work, family obligations, and recreation.”

However, in the conclusion to the report, it is noted that “the generally accepted limit of utilization had been well exceeded,” and that “program expansion requests ... would likely not be ... implemented under the previous schedule model.” Essentially, capacity has been reached in terms of classroom use and the previous schedule, which only allowed for 38.5 hours of classroom use per week would not accommodate the demand for new classes.

The recommendations by the committee have little to do with making changes, and centre mostly around communicating the “new Principles and Essential Process Considerations,” and more meticulous monitoring to “[examine] trends and [adjust] the allocation of classroom capacity.”

// Natalie Corbo
news editor

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