Placing puzzle pieces
Changes to class scheduling to come in spring 2014
Published: Thursday, July 11, 2013
Updated: Thursday, July 11, 2013 02:07
Faculty members raised concerns Monday afternoon when a new set of scheduling requirements, created to encourage classes to be more spread out throughout the week and increase classes held on Fridays, was distributed and discussed.
“This means every department will have classes on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday,” Vice Provost for Human Resources and Facilities Kofi Glover said.
The new scheduling requirements, which will be used for the creation of the spring 2014 course catalog, is an attempt by USF to improve its overall classroom utilization, an area in which the university was considered the worst in the state in 2008.
In 2008, overall classroom usage at USF was at 49 percent, according to statistics from the Office of Space Management. After a new scheduling
pattern was adopted that year, the number increased, and by 2011, overall classroom usage was at 60 percent.
Last fall, overall classroom usage slightly increased again to 63 percent, and Glover said after an analysis of when courses were being scheduled, the university discovered the most popular time slots for classes to be held were between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“What we found was really disturbing,” Glover said. “The consequence of this being (that) students complained about parking. When we have all of our classes packed in two days and those few hours, it’s possible they have problems parking.”
Senior Vice Provost Dwayne Smith said he’s heard students complain they’ve needed classes that were oddly scheduled and overlapped, forcing students to pick and choose what classes to take, thus delaying degree requirements.
The new scheduling grid will require three-credit-hour courses to be held twice a week, either on Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays. The other option is to schedule them for a
three-hour block once a week on Fridays or during evening times.
Classes that are four credit hours, such as foreign language courses, can be scheduled for three days a week, falling on any three days selected by the department.
All one-credit-hour and 2-credit-hour courses are to be scheduled on Fridays, with Saturdays also being offered as an option to departments who find conflicts.
Courses that fall outside of these requirements will require a special request, which must be submitted to the Office of Space Management by July 29.
“We want to see classes on Fridays,” Glover said. “And by providing these three-credit and breakout sessions, they make up for the classes that we should have had on Friday.”
There is also a limit on how many courses a department can schedule during certain times each week.
No more than 10 percent of a department’s classes may be held between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, and the same applies to classes between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Up to 15 percent of classes can be scheduled after 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and at least 20 percent of classes must be scheduled on Fridays.
All classes scheduled will have a starting time that is set at either the top of the hour or the half-hour, Glover said, which will help students simplify their schedules.
Carolyn Ellis, department chair for the communication department, said the new changes will not sit well with faculty members, but because many departments had already created their spring schedules, they may experience difficulties in making changes on short notice.
“I don’t mind them trying to efficiently use their resources and schedule, but they don’t have any idea of the kinds of headaches they make for us,” Ellis said. “We already had the spring schedule put together, and now we have to go back and redo the spring schedule.”
A faculty member from the sociology department said the challenge will be in making scheduling changes at the last minute, with the majority of faculty in the department being out of town during the summer.
“I don’t know if I could get a hold of all of the faculty in less than a month to start changing up times,” the faculty member said. “They schedule everything around (their spring courses), including conferences, so I’m concerned.”
Ellis said she is unsure of whether or not students will adapt to the new schedule, because she doesn’t see many students willfully wanting to take classes on Fridays.
“That means as many (classes) on Friday as any other day of the week,” Ellis said. “Students are going to be unhappy because they can’t get the classes they want during the week, and they’re not going to want to come on Friday. They’ll take fewer classes… Every time you make a change, it’s system-wide. Everything starts to change.”
Shane Voshell, a junior majoring in history, said he used to attend Hillsborough Community College, which had a policy of not holding classes on Fridays. He said he is in favor of spacing out courses at USF.