The Spring Term

OK, so it's not exactly palm tree weather in spring. But it's sure nicer than fall or winter term.

Spring term and Summer term together make up "intersession." If you've never taken an intersession course, this is what it's like: take a course that normally runs 14 weeks and concentrate it down by having class every weekday so it fits into 6 weeks. Add a bit of sunshine, and you've got intersession.

When I first taught an intersession course, my opinion was informed by 80s movies like, well, Summer School. That is, "summer" courses are filled with losers, failures, and screwups. Er, no. Like so many things taught to me by 80s movies, this was wrong. Students in intersession actually tended to be the better students--the ones who were deadly serious about learning (deadly serious, but wearing shorts and flip-flops). I started handing out little cards, asking students to tell me why they chose to take an intersession course. The reasons included:

  • I want to finish my degree early (!)
  • I want to take this specific course but it won't fit into my timetable in fall/winter.
  • I'm just interested in this material.
So, wow.

I'd like the experience students have in intersession courses to be as similar to that of fall/winter term as possible. But that's just not possible. I often assign CogLabs in the "regular" term. Unfortunately, there just isn't time enough in intersession to get 10 of these labs done in 6 weeks. Beyond that, I don't really do much else different: same lecture notes, similar structure of exams, same old jokes.

You've got to be highly motivated if you want to succeed in an intersession course. You've got temptations like sunny warm weather, jobs that pay money which is good for things like paying bills, and cool movies opening every weekend. But you've got to focus, because exams come every couple of weeks. Skip class one day, ignore the textbook for a couple more days, and suddenly you're way behind. It's time to put down the sunblock, finish the last of your margarita, and, well...

Why aren't you studying?


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