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Weighing the benefits Fast-track classes speed students toward graduation

By Nick Stern, Staff Reporter | Photos by Nick Stern

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This summer, CNM has started offering a variety of accelerated courses for students to take advantage of this semester. Confident students are now able to gain more free time during the summer by signing up for these quicker courses, which last for only eight weeks as opposed to the average 12 week courses offered over the summer.
Although the eight-week courses start later and end earlier in the term, the courses cover the same amount of material as the 12 week classes. These courses are a great opportunity to knock out some credits quickly and still squeeze a vacation into the summer if students can handle the condensed work load. Students and faculty have various perspectives on the pros and cons associated with the fast-track courses.
According to President Katharine Winograd’s blog, one-fifth of the courses offered this summer are eight week courses and meant to demonstrate whether or not the experience is an overall good one for students and faculty alike. If responses to the courses are positive, President Winograd is considering offering the fast-track courses during the fall and spring terms as well. “In the fall and spring terms, which have 16 weeks allotted, a student could conceivably complete four terms of coursework in two terms if we offer select classes in eight-week segments,” Winograd said.
English professor, Rachel Pratt teaches two accelerated English 1101 courses and is very content with how well her students are doing in courses that are scheduled Monday through Friday, she said.
“As far as students’ learning has gone, I’ve noticed a faster improvement because they get time to practice every day,” Pratt said.
Pratt’s class schedule allows for her and her students to form a tight-knit relationship by seeing each other every day which makes for excellent open discussions in the classroom, she said.
She also teaches a regular course and said that in the eight-week course she is able to maintain a better connection with students because they have an easier time remembering what was done during the last class.
Her students come to class consistently and have great attendance because of the daily repetition that helps showing up to classes become a habit for students, she said.
Students also tell her that despite coming in to class four consecutive days a week, “the shorter classes are right within their attention span limit,” she said.
On the other hand, Pratt says she is glad her roster is not completely full because it would be difficult to grade everything from a full class of students.
“You have to do more grading in a shorter period of time,” she said.
Pratt makes sure her students are able to write a proper research paper by the time they finish her course, so it is imperative for her to prioritize and be picky about what is covered and assigned in her 8-week courses, she said.
Alisha Garrett, education major, is currently enrolled in an accelerated online Biology 1110 course and her belief is that accelerated courses are not for everyone, she said.
“If you’re a student and you’re interested in taking an 8-week class, you really need to evaluate what kind of student you are before you sign up for it,” Garrett stated.
Her observation is that students who are good at time management and motivated can easily make the fast paced schedule work for them, but if they are just the opposite or have busy lives, or are in and out of school, it could prove to be too much for them, she said.
Fine arts major, Caleb Stump is taking a total of three accelerated classes in Spanish, Sociology, and English 1102. He thinks they could be manageable if he had only chosen one at a time and wasn’t juggling his job as well, he said. Stump goes to each of his three classes every day, Monday through Thursday, and holds down a steady job as well, he said.
“I am doing pretty well but I’m afraid that I have slipped too far in some of my classes. Slipping a little bit is a much bigger deal than it seems because the work is so fast paced and tedious,” he said.
To find out more information about the new fast-track eight week courses, students can call to make an appointment with an academic advisor at 224-4321.

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