Lehigh recently implemented a new class schedule structure, set to begin in fall 2019. The changes include the times of day and length of each class period, impacting both students and faculty.
Faculty Senate Chairman Doug Mahony said there are benefits to the new guidelines, citing the need to resolve the issue of conflicting class times that come from offering overlapping 75- and 50-minute class blocks. In the current schedule, a student that is signed up for a 75-minute course is blocked from registering in two 50-minute class blocks.
A new scheduling committee formed in March 2018 to reconfigure Lehigh’s schedule, partially due to anticipation of the increase in student population. The committee proposed a new way of blocking student schedules to include standardized start and end times, consistent 75-minute slots and more regulation of individual departments.
“The goal is to reconfigure the school day,” Mahony said. “This new blocking technique will give each day a more uniform look.”
Mahony said the most impactful change to future classes is that they will all be allotted a 75-minute time slot twice per week. Even if a class would typically run for 50 minutes, it will still be blocked for 75 minutes, and it is at the discretion of the professor whether to start at the beginning or conclude at the end of the 75 minutes.
However, not all students are confident in the execution of this change. Some students have found scheduling for next semester difficult, citing a lack of diversity in options for classes that are offered on different days of the week.
“They should just spread classes throughout the week,” said Giorgos Hiotis, ’21. “If all sections of a course are offered on the same weekday, then some of us will be forced to delay requirements until the following semester.”
The new scheduling guidelines attempt to address this issue. No more than 35 percent of a department’s labs can be held on any single day of the week, and no more than 35 percent of a department’s courses can be offered between 9 a.m. and noon.
Additionally, no more than 50 percent of multi-day courses can be in the same daily format or pattern.
“Lehigh students are engaged in plenty of activities such as athletics, music and clubs,” Mahony said. “Those usually begin at 4 p.m., so participants need more specifically timed classes. We are confident that these restrictions will help ease this problem.”
However, Mahony said professors prefer teaching at certain times and instructing a course that does not meet on Friday, but that this can lead to more conflicts as professors compete for the same few prime time slots.
Classes will also be offset on Mountaintop Campus so students have more time to catch the bus and travel up the hill. New buses and routes have attempted to streamline this process.
“There can still be instances where students do not get all of the classes that they want,” said Linda Bell, director of administration and student services for Registration and Academic Services. “But these changes will definitely deflate conflicting classes.”
Hiotis said there should be increased communication with departments and advisers to warn students about possible scheduling conflicts.
Bell and Mahony both said they are confident that the schedule changes, bolstered by new Banner tools and practice schedules, will benefit the campus academically in light of some student concerns regarding the diversity of courses offered and their timing.