By RYAN COTTEN, Ranger Reporter:
The second set of Amarillo College’s spring semester eight-week classes is underway and both Amarillo College students and employees say the college has sped up education and set up students for success in a short amount of time. Eight-week classes have become a popular alternative to the traditional sixteen-week classes and have become a popular topic around campus.
Eight-week classes include developmental courses: psychology, government, US History, liberal arts, sociology, composition and several more. “Some of the higher-level classes, like classes in the STEM Program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) will probably remain 16-week classes, but for the majority of our students, it seems to be working,” Frank Sobey, interim associate vice president of academic affairs, said.
Eight-week classes are not a new concept. “We sent a team to Odessa Community College, led by our president, Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, and they explored the eight-week model and came back to AC and put an emphasis on developing the eight week classes. Wherever it makes the most sense, we’re going to do it,” Sobey said.
The change in the length of courses has dramatically increased students’ success rates. “My students are succeeding in a class at 80 percent, whereas before, I had been in the mid-60’s,” Sobey said.
Several teachers and students are in favor on the new eight-week courses. “I think eight-week classes are great because you get done much faster and you stay engaged in the class the whole time because it’s going so fast,” Jared Aragon, a business administration major, said.
Aragon has taken several eight-week courses including Texas Government and US Government, and he said the shorter classes make it easier to pay attention and stay on track. “With a 16-week class it feels like you’re not engaged the whole time, and I think a lot of my friends like eight week classes online and like getting it done quick.”
Professors have noticed an increase of attention and focus during the eight-week courses. “I seem to have less people drop or withdraw because it is so much quicker that they’re done, so they might as well just hang on and get it done,” Dr. Elizabeth Rodriguez, an associate psychology professor, said.
The condensed format also helps professors revise their courses. “I get to have more students that come through my class. I can also find out if something is working or not–so if I mess up in the first eight weeks, I can try to fix it and try to see if it works in the second,” Rodriguez said.
Shortened courses can have its disadvantages. “Sometimes it can go a little too fast. If you’re taking too many eight-week classes, it can be a little tough,” Aragon said.
Professors also say the shorter time frame tends to decrease student-professor interaction. “I don’t know the students as much. Just when I get to know the students really well, they’re gone,” Rodriquez said.