by Julia Ortiz
A student, who is also a single parent, drops off her kids at school in the morning, attends her FRCC classes but can’t leave in time to pick them up.
Another student’s inconsistent class schedule is causing him to miss out on more hours at work.
Students’ afternoons could now be freed up due to the new way FRCC aims to schedule classes. Under this new approach, the halls would fill at the right times and students would instantly understand the benefits of not having hour-long gaps between classes, said FRCC Campus Vice President Jean Runyon.
A small committee made up of Front Range staff set out to create a new way of scheduling classes that would work throughout all the disciplines for students completing their specific degree.
The block-class model is a way to schedule classes so that classes would operate during set time periods instead of at sporadic times, similar to how most high schools set classes to run at the same time. The idea is for students to be able to rely on classes always being at specific times on specific days.
A small committee of deans, faculty, advisors, and registrar's office comprising
In the past, Front Range has had multiple people making class schedules for different departments. Department Chairs and Leads create and approve staff schedules, which then may conflict with classes in other departments or leave large time gaps between classes.
Outside of those in technical programs like nursing and welding, most students are here for an associate of arts or associates of science, usually with plans to transfer to a four-year college.
According to one member of the committee, Shawna Jackson, the purpose behind this new model of classes, was to help students have more flexible schedules. If a student wanted to come to class on specific days and times, they could and still complete their degrees in two years. Jackson said it will also help eliminate large or awkward gaps between classes. Students will no longer have to wait hours between their classes.
This layout is also more beneficial for non-traditional students she said. Those who have full-time jobs, or children at home, can pick and choose any days and times that work for them without disrupting their active lives.
Jackson said she hopes this encourages more seminar-type classes too. She said that students can even plan their classes two years in advance with this model.
FRCC may be making life easier on its students, but how do professors feel about the drastic change in their schedules?
Teachers who schedule their classes for the same time every semester might have to face changes to match the needs of the block-class model.
She said larger disciplines, like English and Math, will be impacted far less than smaller disciplines because of the size of the staff. Disciplines that are taught by a small, or even one full-time faculty member, may find their schedule more spread out.
“Change is never easy,” Jackson said. She hopes that instructors will understand that these types of classes are better for students in the long run. “We are also working with department chairs and leads to make sure faculty needs are met, particularly in smaller disciplines.”
The committee met daily over a two-week period to discuss and outline the new block-classes that will be introduced for Front Range’s 2020 fall semester.