Qualities of an Exceptional Summer Course
Both students and faculty members report favoring summer intensive courses over traditional course formats. In a survey of summer course faculty, Kretovic, Crowe and Hyun (2005) found that a majority of instructors
- enjoy teaching summer classes,
- find it easier to build rapport with students,
- believe that students are more focused on learning outcomes,
- believe that students participate more in class discussions, and
- believe that students attend more regularly.
Interestingly, these faculty perceptions correlate with findings about the attributes that students associate with high-quality intensive courses.
Patricia Scott (2003) categorizes the attributes that students give to high-quality intensive courses under four headings:
- Instructor Characteristics: Faculty of high-quality summer courses are enthusiastic, knowledgeable, collaborative with students and caring about students.
- Teaching Methods: Successful courses feature active learning, classroom discussion, experiential learning and an emphasis on depth over breadth.
- Classroom Environment: Effective summer courses promote student-student and student-teacher interactions within a relaxed atmosphere.
- Evaluation: Superior courses deemphasize busy work by promoting assignments that help students to synthesize learning. Reports, papers, projects and presentations are frequent forms of evaluation in high-quality intensive courses.
According to Scott (2003), “Students repeatedly indicated that instructor enthusiasm and experience, active learning, classroom interaction, good course organization, student input, collegial classroom atmosphere, and a relaxed learning environment were essential to learning in intensive courses.”
When these attributes are present in a summer course, the impact on students include
- more concentrated, focused learning,
- more collegial, comfortable classroom relationships,
- more memorable experiences,
- more in-depth discussion,
- less procrastination, and
- stronger academic performances.
“When these attributes are missing, students report intensive courses to be tedious, painful experiences” (Scott, 2003).
- Kretovic, M.A., Crowe, A.R. and Hyun, E. (2003). A study of faculty perceptions of summer compressed course teaching. Innovative Higher Education 30.1: 37-51.
- Scott, P.A. (2003). Attributes of high quality intensive courses. In R.J. Wlodkowski & C.E. Kasworm (Eds.) Accelerated learning for adults: The promise and practice of intensive educational formats, 29-38. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.