New class grid gets good marks

By Christina LoBrutto and Corinne Anderson

The new class schedule grid, about to be applied for its third semester next fall, received mostly positive reviews from about 75 students in an informal survey by The Rider News.
The revised schedule was designed to allow more courses to be taught in 1.5-hour and 3-hour blocks, which accommodate the needs of specialized courses and permit students to have more free time for outside the classroom experiences, according to associate Dean of Liberal Arts Jonathan Millen.

“I do believe that the new schedule has allowed for more flexibility in student scheduling, making it easier to enroll in internships and conduct research,” Millen said. “Also, many faculty members appreciate the new block structure for unique courses such as labs and film classes.”

Allowing more students to have four-day weeks, the new schedule received a lot of positive feedback from students as they prepare to register for their third semester using it.

Faculty will have a chance to discuss the new grid and provide feedback during an all-faculty forum on March 12 starting at 11:30 a.m. in the Fireside Lounge.

“It made my schedule more uniform throughout the week and freed up my Fridays,” said junior graphic design major Jeff Striks.

Senior English major Katie D’Onofrio agreed.

“It’s made it a lot easier for me to pick later classes and to not have Friday classes,” she said.

While Rider has historically battled the “suitcase school” image, this issue did not seem to concern students.

“Some are eager to enjoy their long weekends on campus,” Striks said, adding, “Some will go home Thursday nights.”

Dr. Jane Rosenbaum, adjunct English professor, however, feels that the new grid encourages long weekends.

“As a consequence of the fewer classes that are being taught on Fridays, more students are apparently choosing to leave campus for long weekends elsewhere, as the diminished number of cars in Rider’s lot indicates,” she said. “As a faculty member for the past 35 years, I have witnessed Rider’s transformation from a so-called suitcase college to a university that provides a more complete student experience. The new schedule grid has begun to erode what it took so long to achieve.”

Rosenbaum added that she believes the new grid has affected faculty attendance on campus as well.

“Since the new schedule was implemented, there are much fewer faculty on campus on Fridays,” she said. “Faculty appear to be consolidating their teaching so that they rarely need to be on campus more than two days a week.”

Officially, there are actually eight more Friday classes offered in spring 2013 than in spring 2012, according to a tally by The Rider News. However, students and professors alike have noticed that there are fewer people on campus on Fridays.

A few different factors might account for this. First, some classes that were scheduled to meet on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11:30 -12:30 have been changed by instructors, with consent of all students in these classes, to meet 11:30-1:00 on Mondays and Wednesdays. There were 64 of these 11:30-12:30 classes set for this spring, 7 more than last spring, but it is not known how many made the shift to twice a week.

In addition, there are about 35% fewer Friday afternoon classes this spring than last spring.

In the earlier grid, once-a-week classes were at night.

“Being able to take a three-hour class in the middle of the day makes it easier to essentially tolerate the length of class and be vigilant, because it is not late at night when you tend to be more tired,” said senior psychology major Angela Lozupone. “It also opens up the rest of your schedule throughout the week.”

Even with the new three-hour classes during the day, a comparison of the initial spring 2012 course roster and the spring 2013 roster indicates a 56% increase in night classes. Spring 2012 had a total of 138 night classes while spring 2013 jumped to 317 night classes.

The new grid eased an issue with overlapping classes, according to senior communication major JJ Duke. In the past a considerable number of classes met at unofficial times.
“I feel the scheduling grid has been a positive in the sense that there were a lot of classes before the change that took place at times not mentioned on the schedule, where I even had finals overlap because of the classes,” he said.

One athlete added that the new grid made it easier to juggle class and practice times.
But while most students contacted are praising the revamped grid, others have had some issues. For junior elementary education and psychology major Erica Hoff, the grid has made for a packed schedule on certain days.

“Mondays and Wednesdays I have class from 10:20 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. without a break, so there’s never time for me to eat lunch and just have a break,” she said. “On Thursdays, I am in the field teaching from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., and then have class from 5:10 to 8:30 p.m., so I don’t have much time to eat and rest up.”

Another complaint was registered by students who took one of the five classes offered during the three-hour Friday afternoon time period from 1:10 to 4:10.

Junior secondary education and English major Morgan Taylor said that the time slot took away a lot of her campus work hours. “As a returning study-abroad student, I was hoping to overload this semester, but all my classes overlapped with each other even though they were part of the same major.”

The Friday slots also impact meeting times for tutors in the Student Success Center, according to junior accounting major Shane Conto.

“It has affected the ability of people to get to our Friday tutor trainings,” he said.
Overall, students and faculty seem to approve of the new grid schedule, or at least have no complaints.

“I feel that personally, the grid is up to date,” senior secondary education and history major Chris Werner said. “[It] brings Rider into the equal competitiveness of larger universities that use similar grids.”

Contact this writer at lobruttoc@theridernews.com.

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