Class change questionable

By on February 13, 2003

New freshmen English 102 classes taught in the Commons and Ledges study lounges have created a different learning environment for students.

“Sometimes it sounds like Tarzan is swinging from the treetops,” said Kaye McDonough, adjunct associate professor of English, joking about the noises she hears in the dorms while teaching.

McDonough teaches in one of the two second-floor study lounges in the Ledges to a class of 12 students, the maximum allowed in a class.

Since she and other English professors are teaching in the residence halls, there have been changes in the way they teach and the way students learn, including more distractions one might face in the unusual setting.

According to Christine Ross, the coordinator of the Freshmen Writing Program, the purpose of having classes in the residence halls is to integrate the experience of residential life with learning. She read about classes such as these and their success in Richard Light’s book, “Making the Most of College.”

Not only is this new way of teaching and learning an attempt to create a better learning experience for students, she said, but it also creates additional space for the university.

Students who chose to take these classes when they signed up at the beginning of second semester are now able to go to class near their rooms with people who live right down the hall from them.

If they have any questions about assignments, they are able to ask classmates, who might live right next door.

“I really like the fact that [the classes] are close to the room. There’s more motivation to go,” said freshman Jamie Sherry.

Though some students like Sherry find the classes to be beneficial, some students feel they are not.

Complaints of overcrowding and noise have made some students unhappy.

However, for professors, the size of the lounges has proven to be beneficial to class participation.

“I love the class size. It’s the first time I’ve really been able to get the students to participate fully,” McDonough said, after remarking on the lack of participation in her previous English classes taught elsewhere on campus.

“It makes me feel less formal and it promotes more discussion,” she said.

McDonough sits at the table beside her students for part of the class and conducts conversations with them. Being that close to her students makes her feel as if she is learning more about their lives.

“They feel more free to express themselves,” she said.

Since the classes have started this semester, professors and students have been adjusting to the new changes.

Recently, Jean Blue, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, passed out surveys to professors and students in order to gain more of an understanding of their views.

After Blue and her staff read the surveys, there will be a final decision upon whether or not to continue the classes in the residence halls for next fall.


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