As part of the Together Safely plan to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Albion College introduced a new module system for the 2020-21 academic year. The change from semesters to quarters with this new module system put into place has affected professors in many different ways. One of the most prominent ways professors have noticed the impact of the change is with time management such as grading and planning.
“I’m teaching fewer groups of organisms than I usually do, and teaching them in less detail than usual.” said biology professor Dr. Abigail Cahill via email.
Having half the amount of weeks to teach a class, professors have had to choose what to focus on and narrow their course materials down to what they believe to be the most important information students need to get out of their courses.
“The major adjustments were to reduce the number of overarching learning goals for the seven-week model and to reduce the total amount of reading and writing and learning work students and I would be asked to do during the module,” said English professor Scott Hendrix via email.
Since students only have half the time they usually would to complete projects outside of class, many professors have had to adapt or change not only the content of their courses, but the format as well.
“I normally have students propose and complete an independent project, but there’s not time for that in seven weeks,” said Cahill via email. “Instead, the students are making insect collections.”
Not all effects were negative ones, there were some benefits too. There were advantages to having the module system for some classes, especially in the biology and chemistry departments.
“I was also excited that teaching the class in Module A means that we will get our whole course in before the weather turns — for a class with a field component, that’s a big benefit,” said Cahill via email.
Not having to plan field labs around the Michigan winter allows professors to take advantage of the outdoors. Cahill’s insect collection, for example, was made more realistic in Module A because of the warmer weather.
“I added several outdoor labs to take advantage of the good weather and because it’s safer to be outside right now,” said Cahill via email.
Another benefit is having the consistent rhythm of having students meet for class every day.
“It’s been advantageous for my advanced class,” said chemistry professor Dr. Cliff Harris via email. “They are working three hours per day every day, and that is a much better rhythm for real chemistry work. It’s harder for the less-experienced students, but they are doing okay.”