With one term done, students struggling with 8-week courses

It has been over one year since OCCC announced that almost all classes offered would switch from a 16-week format to an 8-week format.

This meant that instead of students having one class for sixteen weeks, they
would have that same class for 8-weeks, regardless of the amount of material. Eight-week and shorter-term classes were not something new to OCCC.

They had been offered for years alongside the 16-week term for many of the subjects taught at the college.

There were even a few 5-week fast track courses, but students were able to decide for themselves if they were capable of taking on a faster paced course.

When this change was announced both students and faculty were apprehensive. They expressed concerns that there would not be enough time to teach or for students to understand the material required to be successful in a class.

Lessons would have to be modified to fit the new timeline, and students would have to get used to a fast-paced format.

“When OCCC announced we were going to 8-week classes there were definitely mixed reviews,” Student Success Adviser Shara Hendricks said.

“New students starting out in college or students who tend to start out in prep-level classes seem to have a difficult time with the 8-week schedule and have an easier time acclimating to college with the 16-week schedule,” she said.

“Students who were used to taking 5-6 classes in a semester tend to prefer the 8-week class format,” she continued.

Journalism Professor Lisa McCollough, says that although she had previously taught an 8-week course, this time around she still felt rushed because the 8-week design had been modified and she needed time to adjust.

Despite students’ concerns with the 8-weeks not being long enough to absorb everything that was being taught and how that would affect their grades, McCollough says that, at least for her classes, there were no big changes in grades.

“Those that participate, show up in class, and stay in communication with me do well,” she said.

“Those that fail don’t take the action steps or they stop entering into dialogue with their classmates or professor. They fail themselves.

“One thing that did change from her classes is the amount of work.

Due to time constraints, some projects had to be cut from the curriculum in order to fit in all necessary material. Some projects were simply not possible to do in only 8-weeks, she said.

“I’m concerned, ultimately, that students may be slighted in rich classroom experiences,” McCollough said.

Although the college decided to move into an 8-week format, the transition was not applied to all courses.

It is no secret that generally, students taking higher level Biology, Computer Science, Digital Media Design, Digital Cinema Production, and Chemistry courses do better and have a higher chance of passing in a 16-week class than an 8-week class. But, they were required to be taught in 8 weeks.

With that in mind, however, some classes such as Human Anatomy, Production Design, Cinematography 1 and 2, as well as a few others, were left to still be conducted as full 16-week classes.

Still, many professors believe that more options should be offered in respect to class length.

Earlier this week, OCCC professors spoke about their concerns that 8-week classes are not working. “It works for some programs,” said Professor Julie Corff.
She continued “I teach Public Speaking and Interpersonal Communication. We can do 8-weeks and fast track, but I would love to have the option of the 16-weeks for students who can’t keep up with the workload of an 8-week.”

Corff said that for her classes, though she did not see a drop in grades, she did see an increase in the amount of people that dropped classes.

“I want to believe that the new administration is listening to the needs of students and faculty,” she said.

Student views on the 8-week transition are still mixed.

“When the news about the 8-week transition first came out, I wasn’t completely for it,” said student Isabel Silva, nursing.

“I’ve since grown to really enjoy them, but when I first heard I was really worried about how hard classes would be and how much information would be skipped,” she said.

Many OCCC students shared this concern and continue to feel fast-paced programs do not work for every student.