Johns Hopkins University
Fall/Winter 2006
Vol. 4, No. 1

NEWS

New Faces, New Digs

A Merger with Momentum

Stellar Achievements

Beyond the Ivory Tower—to Museums

New Faculty Arrive on the Scene

> A New Schedule Aims to End "Binge" Learning

Student Standouts

Faculty Books

Your Words


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A New Schedule Aims to End “Binge” Learning

A long-standing Johns Hopkins idiosyncrasy is now set for retirement.

Arts and Sciences dean Adam Falk and Whiting School of Engineering dean Nicholas Jones recently announced their decision to adopt a long-debated change to the undergraduate course schedule that will spread out classes more evenly throughout the week and put Johns Hopkins in line with almost all peer universities.

calendar illustrationBeginning in spring semester 2008, the majority of courses offered at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and the Whiting School of Engineering will be held in either a Monday/Wednesday/Friday or Tuesday/Thursday format.

Currently, most courses are held either Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday or Thursday/Friday. This “compressed” schedule allowed students and faculty to either front-load or back-load their week and in effect give themselves consecutive days off from classroom activities.

Falk says there has been a growing sentiment throughout the school that the current course schedule hurt the university’s social dynamic by creating a pattern of “binge” learning. In addition, the existing schedule has made it increasingly harder, Falk said, for students to avoid class conflicts when putting together a schedule and for departments to find available classroom space, as the compressed format bunched a large number of classes into very few time slots.

The change will allow the school to use more of the week for classes and be consistent with schedules at other university divisions and colleges nationwide.

Another key benefit: facilitation of cross-divisional registration and interdivisional collaboration in program development. Currently, the ability of Homewood students to take classes at the School of Public Health and the Peabody Institute—and for Peabody students to take courses at Homewood—is constrained by the incompatibility of the divisions’ class schedules, Falk notes.

The new schedule will also offer improved classroom utilization. “The schedule we are on now has created an inefficient use of classroom space,” Falk says. “And when renovations begin on Gilman Hall, we will lose a significant number of classrooms. We do expect that, with this adopted change, more of the week will be used than is the case now, and that in and of itself will alleviate many of the problems we currently face.”

The Hopkins Commission on Undergraduate Education originally proposed the move to a more standard course schedule format and made it a recommendation in its final report, released in May 2003. Two years ago, a faculty committee was formed and charged with looking into the design of a new weekly course schedule based upon the CUE report recommendation. The proposal that was ultimately adopted was based upon the work of that committee.