Three-week IDS brings only sheer anxiety


The three week course was successful for some students. In particular, students who went abroad had the opportunity to be immersed in a new space and culture while focusing on one topic. The students were able to go observe places and have hands-on experiences traveling in a foreign country. This type of collaborative, immersive experience seems perfect for a three week class. However, according to one student, it seemed that the course was rushed, and despite the new format for learning it was hard to retain all the new information at such a fast pace.

There seems to be a number of problems with the new structure. The three week class precedes the 12 week session, which is also more intense and fast paced compared to the usual 15 week semesters. Many students were already stressed and tired and have to go for another 12 weeks at an increased pace feeling exhausted. Although students had a four day break between the two sessions, students were still debriefing from the three week marathon. I think having a chance for each class to debrief together, and maybe even a wider all-campus debrief, would help to smoothen the transition. It remains to be seen if this new curriculum is a good combination or simply exhausting for the students.

Another challenge of the new curriculum is for students who have learning challenges and require additional time to complete papers and projects. The three week class increases their stress as they must complete reading materials and prepare for papers and presentations all while unsupported by the College.

For some students, taking a 400 level course within three weeks was overwhelming. The course work was overloaded with readings, a research paper and a presentation. The main challenge was keeping up with the pace of the course and not getting behind in work. If that happened then there was a real threat of failing the course. The three week course did not even lend any flexibility for students getting sick. There were students who got diagnosed with the flu and still went to class because they couldn’t afford even one absence. If they missed a class then they essentially missed a weeks worth of learning and classwork.

This was a new experience for the faculty as well. In discussing a 400 level course with a professor who taught a health course, she felt there were changes she would make to improve the course. She thought the class could be more experiential, including having the class go explore the Greensboro community by meeting health professionals in the area. This exploratory element would add the engaging aspect that this 400 level course lacked. Another option would be if class met four days a week for a longer time, and the fifth day could be built around collaborative work. Other ideas included restructuring course objectives and adding a mid-term break in the middle of the three week period. The professor was concerned that the experience itself was supposed to feel positive, but the students were not eager about participating in the new schedule and this impeded student learning.

400 level courses shouldn’t be taught in the three weeks because the pacing and level of commitment to the class are a deadly combination. The students who have other commitments struggle with the course work, having to split their time between homework, working or sports. It’s asking too much of us as students to spend eight to nine hours on homework plus the three hours in class every day. Students need a break to take care of their mental health, exercise and rest if they are sick. The intense, fast paced course can take a big toll on the body physically as well as emotionally. I realize that professors can adapt and create changes in the courses, but a 400 level class needs to meet certain academic standards that would be better met in the 12 week class format and allow the three week classes to be more relaxed and experiential.


Editor’s note: This story originally was published in Volume 106, Issue 1 of The Guilfordian on Oct. 4, 2019.