NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) -Tennessee State University is moving to a four-day class schedule when school resumes for the spring 2015 semester, the University administration has announced.
Classes will be held Monday –Thursday but administrative offices and staff will still have a five-day workweek.
Officials said the change is intended to allow more time for student advising, faculty office hours, as well as free up more time for faculty and students to engage in research and grant writing.
They emphasized that the switch is to a four-day class schedule and not a four-day workweek, adding that employees are expected to be at work on Fridays.
Calling the switch a “pilot,” the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Mark Hardy, said all previous “contact hours” for courses would be maintained.
“This is an experiment for the spring semester,” he said. “If we find that it has no adverse impact on student performance and progression, we will continue it.”
He said Friday should not be misconstrued as a day-off for students.
“Once they see the benefit of having extra time to meet with faculty without interfering with class, being able to focus more time on research, and have more interactions with Student Affairs, they will embrace the idea,” the Vice President noted.
The switch, however, means longer class hours on Mondays and Wednesdays, with some classes starting earlier in the morning and some others ending much later in the evening. For instance, 50-minute classes will be extended to one hour and 20 minutes each.
The change does not affect evening and weekend classes, and it does not mean professors will be working less either. Fridays will only help them to focus more time on advising students and projects, said Hardy.
Although TSU is not the first institution in the nation to make the switch, it is the first university in the Tennessee Board of Regents system to condense classes to four days. Institutions that have adopted the change include Southern University in Baton Rouge, and Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville, Mississippi.
At TSU, students already think the switch is a great idea.
Student Government Association President Markeil Lewis has no doubt about widespread student support once they return and have been adequately informed about the switch.
“I love the new initiative of a four-day class schedule for students,” said Lewis, a senior from Stone Mountain, Georgia. “I personally found it hard through my matriculation to find the passion to actually attend class on Fridays, let alone be aware and attentive to actually learn. I do understand that we will have to be in classes slightly longer but this is something that students will accept once they understand the benefits.”
Tyrell Jones, a junior Math major from Brooklyn, New York, also “loves” the idea of the four-day class schedule, especially the benefit of an extended class hour.
“Now that means it gives teachers more time to teach and students enough time to take in the material for better understanding,” said Jones, a work-study student, who also serves as a tutor. “In many instances teachers are in a haste to cover all of their materials in 55 minutes, which does not allow enough time for questions and interaction with students. The extra time should be very helpful.”
Dr. Kimberly King-Jupiter, dean of the College of Education, said the four-day class schedule structures students’ academic experience because it offers fewer course meetings but more course time to engage students in meaningful discussion about course content.
“I am excited about the four-day class schedule,” King-Jupiter said. “Friday (or the fifth day of the week) gives faculty the opportunity to engage in discussions about or to conduct the research that enhances the quality of the instruction that they deliver in the classroom. It also helps them to engage in the type of assessment activities that are a hallmark of the University.”
Tennessee State University has continually remained on the cutting-edge of ideas and innovations that enhance student learning and success in unique ways. Last semester, the University established a digital book bundle initiative, the first in the TBR system that allows freshman students to buy “e-books” for general education classes, at savings of up to $735 per semester. The program is aimed at lowering the costs of traditional paper textbooks while ensuring freshmen have the required books the first day of class.
“We have a president who is innovative and always looking for new ways to help our students succeed,” said Hardy. “The four-day class schedule and our book bundle effort, which started last semester, are just some of the ways that demonstrate this administration’s commitment to providing an academic environment that promotes student success.”
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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.