GCCC ready to roll out four-day class schedule
By RACHAEL GRAY
Students at Garden City Community College will be going to school less this coming semester.
That is, one day a week less. The amount of work, classes and exams will remain the same at GCCC, but students will attend classes Monday through Thursday. No formal classes will take place on Fridays, although faculty will be on hand and facilities will be open for students to work on coursework.
Dr. Bruce Exstrom, GCCC vice president of instructional services, said there will be a few exceptions.
"Basically the majority of classes will run on the Monday-through-Thursday schedule. A lot of the classes will meet Monday and Wednesday, or Tuesday and Thursday, and some will run all four days depending on the number of credit hours and lab requirements," he said.
Clinical work at hospitals and internship work may still be on Fridays for students, as well, Exstrom said.
Exstrom said going from a five-day to four-day week will help meet the needs of the ever-changing student population.
"I don't know if there are traditional students anymore. Students work part time, or full time. And it's a good thing when we can accommodate that," he said.
Students would be able to work Friday, Saturday and Sunday and have more focus on schoolwork and activities during the rest of the week, Exstrom said.
Another advantage of the four-day week would be in allowing students in extracurricular activities and sports to stay caught up on schoolwork and not miss classes.
"Absenteeism for those activities will go down," Exstrom said.
Faculty, too, will benefit.
"Having Fridays as work days will allow their schedules to be more flexible. They can hold office hours on Fridays, or hold out-of-class testing," he said.
Fridays also could be used for faculty meetings.
"Getting faculty together during the week is a real challenge. Having no classes on Friday allows additional time. In an ever-increasing technological age, and changing higher education, this will give faculty more time for professional development, teaching and learning," he said.
Exstrom began as instructional vice president at GCCC in September 2012. Before, he was the dean of instructional services at Coastal Bend College in Beeville, Texas, where the school had a four-day week.
"Where I came from in Texas, we had a four-day week. It increased student successes there. Students having Friday, Saturday and Sunday made their schedule more flexible," he said.
Exstrom also hopes to increase student engagement at GCCC.
Hours will be increased at testing sites to leave more time for faculty to use class time on instruction and group projects. Students will be able to take tests at their convenience, even on Fridays.
"It's been a lot of work for faculty. It is an adjustment. They have to put different kinds of time commitments in. They are having to adjust their schedules for lectures and labs," he said.
Some of the classes now offered at GCCC are hybrids — some class time instruction is provided in the classroom and some is provided online.
"That also adds flexibility for the students. And it gives them access to class materials 24/7," Exstrom said.
Classes for GCCC begin on Jan. 16. The campus opens back up Monday.