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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

TCC shakes up schedules

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Starting next fall, TCC students will get an entire week off for Thanksgiving but must return from summer break a week earlier.

The changes are one of three recommendations made by a task force designed to standardize semester schedules and class times across the district.

Administrators began this spring to implement other recommendations by the Scheduling Maximization Task Force such as standardized start and end times and final exam schedules. 

The task force was created in November 2016 to develop consistency across the campuses, to look at whether the college was offering the right classes when students needed them and to see if the campuses were using their spaces optimally, said Nancy Cure academic affairs associate vice chancellor.

“Our students move between campuses, so if campus A has one schedule and campus B has another schedule, that doesn’t facilitate that movement between campuses,” Cure said.

Prior to the district changing start and end times, a student could take a 9 a.m. class on one campus while that same class starts at 8:50 a.m. on another campus, she said. 

“So that’s what we looked at,” Cure said. “Instead of offering a thousand different start times, we standardized them so that a student knew this is when classes begin.

And if I need to move between campuses, I know when that class is going to begin at the other campus.”

The task force also decided to do the same this semester with final exams.

“This is so that a student will know if they’re moving between campuses that their final will be on this particular day and time,” Cure said.

In the past, every campus created its own final exam schedule, making it difficult for students taking classes on multiple campuses who might have conflicting finals, she said.

The task force also looked at the number of instructional days for the fall and spring semesters, which were different in past years. This is where the decision to give students a full week off at Thanksgiving was made, but there is a tradeoff.

To keep both terms at 77 instructional days, students, faculty and staff will return to the college a week earlier than past years, according to the memorandum.

The college opted to standardize the number of instructional days because different instructional days impacted start and end times and changing the number of instructional days also meant changing the minutes, Cure said.

“The time and the duration of a class is all on minutes, and that’s really what it comes down to,” she said.

The change in instructional days also affects when the semester ends, Cure said.

The final exam schedule changed from starting on Friday and ending the following Thursday to starting on Thursday and ending on Wednesday.

“It gives students a little more time, and it gives faculty a little more time to get grades in,” she said.

Students were not consulted about any of the schedule changes, though TR students were surveyed in 2014 when that campus first looked into schedule maximization, Cure said.

“Each of the campuses had been looking at their schedules, so I know that they were getting feedback from students when they were going to advising and things like that, but no, not necessarily during this process,” she said.

The task force consisted of faculty, staff and administrators from each campus and the district office, she said.

“It was primarily vice presidents of academic affairs and deans because they are the ones responsible for the schedule,” she said, adding that others from around the college like facilities personnel were also involved.

The impact of these changes across the district are not yet known as the task force is still working to develop reports, but NE Campus has manually begun to gather some data, Cure said.

“What they found is they have more classes available at what we would call ‘prime times,’” she said.

“Prime times” are when students want to be on campus like 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., she said.

“So they’re finding they have more rooms available at those times which will allow them to add more sections for students,” Cure said. “That’s exactly what we wanted to see from this, and so they’ll be able to look at their schedule and add high-demand classes at those high-demand times.”

TR academic affairs vice president Bryan Stewart, who was on the task force, looked at schedule maximization on his campus before the district began its work. In 2014, TR decreased its 15-minute passing period to 10 minutes because students would still have plenty of time to get to their classes and because it allowed the campus to offer more classes during the day, Stewart said.

“One of the very, very significant things that occurred was that our enrollment decreased 5 percent,” he said.

He said it took two semesters for TR’s enrollment to go back up.

“It was a troubling side effect because none of us want to lose enrollment, but it took students a while to understand what the schedule was because they were used to classes being at this time and they were shifted to another time,” he said.

The task force still meets regularly and will continue to look at the schedule and make changes as needed. Constantly re-evaluating the schedule is an important part of the process, Stewart said.

“What I hope students will understand is that as a college we’re looking at offering the most efficient schedule we can for students and realizing that we also need to continue to evaluate that,” he said.

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