Bright Ideas

Compressed “SuperCourses”

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Implementation Date: October 2010

Brock University has found successful a compressed delivery model for several courses, like “Introduction to Community Health Sciences,” that accelerates a standard 8-month course down to just 2 weeks in the spring.  (Professors Madelyn Law and Brent Faught appear in the photo above)

The pace is intense, of course: students are in class Monday through Friday from 9am until 6pm.  The course is team-taught by two professors, augmented by guest lectures, videos, and online activities. Students write a quiz every day and a 3-hour exam each Saturday.  But by the end of the two weeks, the students have covered all the same material as the 8-month course, and they average grades 8% higher (perhaps because the course has their undivided attention, or perhaps because they have 7 fewer months in which to forget what they have learned).

After Brock beefed up its spring academic menu, expanded external registration access and  aggressively promoted it in student newspapers province-wide, spring enrolment in 2013 jumped 35% over the previous year.

This delivery model has some of the same advantages and disadvantages of the block method employed at Quest University, and being tried experimentally by UNBC.  What have been your experiences as teachers or students in these sorts of compressed courses?

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