Benefits of three-hour block classes explained

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BAGS / THE DEPAUW

It’s normal when studio classes and labs are close to three hours in length, although it's highly unusual for writing and religion classes. 

This semester, a few classes, such as writing workshops and a Modern Hinduism class, meet once a week for close to three hours, differing from the routine class times of meeting for one hour three times a week, or for one-and-a-half hours twice a week. 

“I like being in a three-hour class because during that time, the class is very efficient, and we get a lot done,” said Emily Wiland, a junior in Tom Chiarella’s fiction workshop course. “Sometimes, it can seem long, and it can be hard to stay focused for three hours. But overall, I like it for a fiction workshop class.” 

Professor Jason Fuller agrees that it can be a challenge to keep students focused, but if the class is kept interesting then it shouldn’t be a problem. 

“It is hard to keep a sustained focus for any period of time longer than about 20 minutes,” said Fuller, a Modern Hinduism professor, over an email on Thursday. “Focus and attention go in and out regardless of the length of a class. The key is to do what one can to keep the conversation alive during the longer class. If students are interested they will be engaged and vice versa. The professor needs to find ways of engaging and interesting students in material continuously regardless of the length of the class.” 

Fuller also believes his class discussions are able to dive deeper when the class doesn’t have to worry about getting cut off by time constraints. 

“In an hour or hour-and-a-half class format conversations are often cut short right when they start to get interesting,” Fuller said. “Graduate schools use them for good reason—they work! Having an extended period of time to delve deeply into texts and ideas allows for a more engaged classroom environment.” 

Even when a class is cancelled, jeopardizing over a week of absence from the course material, Wiland thinks this isn’t detrimental to students’ work. 

“I think with a fiction workshop class, cancellations only give more time to the writers,” she said. “I don't find it a huge set back. The editors can have more time to look over the pieces, and the writer can work on the piece more.” 

Dissimilarly, another student finds any cancellation an inconvenience. 

“While I'd rather not have class canceled altogether, it is an unfortunate byproduct of the nature of the schedule,” said junior Matthew Bigger, also in Chiarella’s fiction writing workshop. “While the accessibility of the professors at DePauw often makes individual appointments straightforward, it is inconvenient to have to rework classes because an entire week of curriculum is lost in one cancellation.” 

Other students think that the once a week class keeps students more accountable for their learning, although this could be difficult time management for some students to handle.

“[Having a class] once a week makes us all even more accountable as students, because the need to go to office hours and keep on top of the writing is essential,” said Wiland. “As a junior, I feel comfortable working under that sort of schedule, however, I definitely wouldn't want to do it for all my courses.” 

Other professors and students offer that this schedule could not work for every class. 

A teacher within the School of Music, Bonnie Whiting thinks that some classes work better in this time period. 

“I have other classes that work well twice a week; just not this one!” Whiting said of her Entrepreneurship class.

Some three-hour classes meeting once a week in the Fall 2015 semester include Methods of Educational Research, an Honors Scholar senior seminar and an Asian Studies Senior Seminar.