Students find winter course session successful

By Estefania Florez

Over winter break, the University ran its first winter semester, offering eight courses online in a variety of subjects. Feedback from the trial session will determine whether more will be held in the future.

A survey will be sent to students who registered for the session, and a cross-campus group will examine the feedback closely to determine how to improve the program for students and faculty.

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Students were able to earn up to four credit hours in four weeks, and 767 students enrolled. Adam Fein, associate director of The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, said it looked like the winter session was a success.

“First of all, and most importantly, early returns are that there was a lot of high quality teaching and learning,” Fein said. “For example, in (Joseph) Petry’s ECON 203 course, the median final grade was over 89 percent, which was the highest median score achieved in his 203 course, ever.”

Emi Rosanwo, sophomore in Business, took the ECON 203 class to satisfy one of her requirements and said she found it to be a challenging, yet rewarding course.

“I like that it was kind of on your own time, like one day I could work in the morning, the next day I could work at night, depending on when I wanted to,” Rosanwo said. “It was definitely beneficial, and I would do it again, because if I can lighten my workload, I will.”

However, Rosanwo did not like how hard it was to get in contact with the teacher or TA or how fast-paced the class was. She said students take one midterm and final, just like a regular class.

“I didn’t like how it was crammed. We learned all the material that everyone else learned in 6 weeks,” Rosanwo said.

Fein said instructional designers spent months researching the best practices peer institutions use to design “high quality short-format” online courses.

Bill Sieczkowski, sophomore in Engineering, took BADM 310 in order to stay on track to graduate in four years, as he added a minor to his curriculum. For him, it was a great way to earn three credit hours.

“I liked how well the class was organized and how smoothly the entire

process went,” Sieczkowski said. “I loved the fact that I was able to watch lectures when I had time to do so, rather than a scheduled class time like we have with on campus classes.”

Sieczkowski said he would recommend online winter classes for those who want to get quick credit for a class and are willing to put in some hard work over winter break.

Fein said students registered for the courses almost immediately.

“At the start of winter session, the courses were around 92 percent full, which is very high — especially for a pilot session,” Fein said.

Fein also said a winter session can be helpful for students who weren’t able to register in time for a popular fall course or for students who want to isolate a particular course so they can really focus on the content during a session that doesn’t require the student to carry additional courses.

“A winter session course may not be right for everyone, but it’s important that we have options for our diverse student body,” Fein said. “Some of our students are very motivated to graduate on time, and winter session might be a good fit for these students.”

Estefania can be reached at [email protected].