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New schedule expands transition periods, keeps Common Hour

February 2, 2018

In an email to the Bowdoin community on Wednesday, Dean for Academic Affairs Elizabeth McCormack and Registrar Martina Duncan ’97 officially shared changes to the daily time block schedule and final exam period that will take effect in the fall 2018 semester. Several aspects of the original plan, announced and debated at the faculty meeting on December 4, have since been modified after receiving faculty pushback.

The new schedules constitute phase one of a two-phase plan introduced by a working group formed two years ago to address scheduling issues. Most notably, these schedules include 10-minute transition periods in between classes, a shortened exam period with the addition of an evening exam slot and new time blocks during the day and evening. Because of the longer transition periods, the last daytime classes will end at 4:15 p.m., rather than 3:55 p.m.

In the initial plan, there were four 175-minute evening blocks during the week, one for every evening Monday through Thursday. Additionally, there were 85-minute blocks on both Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday evenings. The current plan retains two 175-minute blocks per week, on Monday and Wednesday, and adds 85-minute evening blocks only on Monday/Wednesday.

Due to concerns about infringing on students’ co-curricular opportunities and a healthy work-life balance, faculty pushed back against the additional evening blocks at the December meeting. The new plan takes these concerns into consideration, according to Duncan.

“Eliminating a few of the originally proposed blocks seemed like a reasonable compromise,” Duncan wrote in an email to the Orient.

In the new time block schedule, departments are also required to use a certain number of “Underutilized Time Slots,” which are mainly in the early morning and the evening.

Another change announced in the Wednesday email concerns the “bunching” policy of final exams, which, according to the Student Handbook, allows students to reschedule a final exam if they have three exams over the course of two days. The new exam schedule includes an evening exam slot, and the revised policy reflects this change: if students have three exams in three consecutive time slots, or four exams in two days, they are allowed reschedule.

The working group that produced the December proposal also suggested that Common Hour not be scheduled until the other schedules were finalized, citing inconsistent understanding and use of Common Hour across campus. Common Hour has been restored, but will occur Fridays from 3 to 4 p.m., according to Duncan.

Duncan explained that the community wanted to retain Common Hour.

“It seemed best to restore it for now so we could, as a community, consider how best to move forward,” she wrote.

Once these changes are implemented, the Office of the Registrar and the Office of Academic Affairs will gauge the community’s reception and use feedback to make more modifications in phase two of the schedule reevaluation.

“We don’t have a fully fleshed out plan, yet, but it will involve students,” wrote Duncan. “We are committed to making this a campus-wide process, involving all stakeholders.”

 

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