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Schedule Front Loads Stress

By Nataliya Nedzhvetskaya, Contributing Writer

In the second year of the new academic calendar—which shifted the fall finals period to before winter break—student and faculty opinion remains mixed on the effects of the shortened semester.

“I personally like the old schedule better,” said Economics Professor N. Gregory Mankiw. “It gave students more time to reflect on their courses and synthesize the material before taking final exams.”

Social Studies Assistant Professor Andrew Jewett added that he was worried about the new schedule’s effects on the quality of student work.

“I’ve heard from a few people that students who have to write research papers for the fall aren’t budgeting enough time and, as a consequence, aren’t doing as good a job,” he said.

College Fellow in African American Studies Jason Sokol voiced a different opinion. “While students certainly have a lot of end-of-semester assignments, they do not appear overly stressed or overwhelmed,ę” he said. “They seem to be taking the workload in stride, and I am very confident in their ability to continue to perform at a high level.”

Most students said that while the new schedule puts more pressure on students during reading period, they preferred having a longer break to a longer work period.

“The semester will be stressful no matter what,” said Jamie L. Olson ’11. “It is better to have a true break than have more time for papers and such.”

Jeffrey B. Low ’11 said that he felt student stress levels are “back to normal” this year, after being elevated during last year’s reading period—the first year the calendar change took effect.

Despite having a year to adjust to the shortened exam period, few faculty members reported significantly altering their course loads.

“The only class I’m teaching now has no exams, only papers, so it’s not really been an issue.” said Assistant Professor in Psychology Joshua D. Greene.

Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Professor George V. Lauder also said that “no changes” had been made to Life Sciences 2, the class he co-teaches in the fall term.

Patrick A. Gordon ’11 said that he observed little change in the way faculty approached the shortened schedules.

“Most professors just cram it into the smaller time. They cover the same material and assign the same stuff.”

In dealing with the time crunch, Gordon said that he tried to “focus more during term-time.”

Low said he felt that professors made some adjustments this year to compensate for the schedule change. “Last year, the professors hadn’t quite figured it out,”ę he said. “I think professors learned from last year and paid better attention to spreading out assignments.”

Physics Lecturer David Morin pointed out that students had always faced the same time pressure in the spring semester that they do now in the shorter fall semester.

“The present schedule isn’t totally new territory—it just makes the fall terms similar to what the spring terms have always been like,” he said.

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