3-10-10-3: Proposed Schedule Structure at UNBC
By Tyson Kelsall, Culture Editor
There could be a new semester structure coming to the University of Northern British Columbia. In fact, it would be pretty new and unique to North America in general. For those that already have heard about it, it is being referred to as the “3-10-10-3” schedule. This sequence of numbers represents a new style of classes. Currently, classes are most likely to be offered in a 13-week format. However, the proposal is to offer the first three weeks of the September semester as single intensive courses, followed by the next 10 weeks as slightly condensed courses, where students take a few classes. The same thing would happen for the first 10 weeks of the second semester, and for the last 3 weeks of the second semester there would be single intensive courses again. In effect, the strategy is to match the intensive courses up with the nicer weather to infuse more experiential learning into UNBC’s course possibilities. Dr. Mark Dale, UNBC’s acting President and Provost, says that the decision is not final and plenty of research is still being done, but he points out that some professors have already put it to the test and it is often summer courses that are offered in this method. Dale says there are some potential benefits and real worries which are being weighed. Included in the worries is the notion that research is much harder to do in shorter spans. Additionally, scheduling and timetabling will have to be re-arranged. Potential benefits include the fact that 1st year students could have a sort of what Dale calls “UNBC 101,” where there is a chance for strong cohort building and student engagement. He added that how courses are taught will be different, but could be better in some instances. He lays out a potential day plan as morning lectures, and afternoon field work. This will not be true for all courses, but certainly many could be taught this way.
Dale and Troy Hanschen, UNBC’s registrar, also both see the proposal as a potential way to attract people to UNBC. They both emphasize the importance of maintaining the transferability of these courses. Hanschen points out that the regular three credit class has 39 hours of contact to it, which would be maintained in the 3 and 10 week courses, only condensed. This could see students come to UNBC to catch up or finish off some credits that they’re missing. Moreover, they want to see an expansion of the places where these courses are offered. Right now, UNBC has a few campuses, but Dale sees the 3 week intensive courses, especially the ones focused in the field, as being taught all over Northern BC.
In any case, Dale wants to see more research to smooth out any potential “technical difficulties” and would like to see trial run. He remains enthusiastic about the potential, and points out that it was not too long ago that some North American universities broke down yearlong courses to semester long ones, and believes that has been a progressive development.