Augustana’s New Calendar: The Student Perspective:
Most of us never really think about our academic calendar completely changing. For years and years, we’ve followed the same semester schedules that see us take multiple courses for terms that last for about 4 months at a time. This has been my experience — up until now.
For the past couple of years, Augustana Campus has been planning and preparing to make the switch to a new course calendar. And this is the year that they’ve done it.
So, what does it look like?
Augustana’s new calendar block plan consists of a 3-week session in which students take one course for three hours a day, followed by an 11-week session in which students take four courses. The same pattern is followed for fall and winter semesters, and the schedule allows for more spring classes.
It’s a big change. For a lot of students and faculty the switch to the new Augustana calendar has been a challenge.
Only focusing on one class for three weeks does take some adjustments. Instead of spending a week learning about syllabi and leaving class early, the work begins immediately. The three-week structure is fast-paced, intensive, and forces students to focus their energy on one topic.
It allows students to immediately engage with their course and dive right into learning. Aside from the changes for students, it also means that professors must change their traditional methods because lectures don’t work the same way in this schedule.
As with any kind of change, there’s going to be negativity and critiques.
The first 3-week session began late August and since then, there has been mixed reviews coming from the campus community. As with any kind of change, there’s going to be negativity and critiques. The change happened quickly, so, of course, it’s going to take time to work out the kinks.
I think we all need to learn to appreciate the new opportunities and possibilities that weren’t imaginable with the other calendar.
University is not meant to be easy; it’s a time to grow as a person, learn, develop passions, discover and explore. I think that the new calendar is an opportunity to take the challenge of university and experience something new and refreshing.
Personally, it’s exciting to be part of something new and innovative. I’m enjoying the realities that come with studying at a place that will experiment with new pedagogical practices. While there are challenges, there are also so many benefits.
My 3-week course was highly experiential; I spent three weeks going on field trips, interacting with members of the community, and doing small group work. One activity that we completed, called the “tree of life diagnostic” got us out in the Camrose community and deepening our understanding of the inner landscape of the city. My group interviewed the Camrose mayor, city planners, and other community leaders.
This option allows students to get out there, try new things, and take risks.
It was a very valuable and fulfilling way to spend the first three weeks of the year. I think this option allows students to get out there, try new things, and take risks. We aren’t always encouraged to think outside of the box or engage with our community in these ways. While lectures are sometimes important, I think that the new Augustana calendar allows students to engage in experiential learning and have unique opportunities.
After experiencing the first 3-week session, I feel optimistic about the new calendar. The 3-week time period allows professors to try new things, take risks, and experiment with different ways of teaching their courses.
Even though it’s a big change, we have to embrace the difficulties and try to focus on the positives. Augustana may be a small campus, but we’re certainly making massive changes and challenging the traditional way of education.