Where have Friday classes gone? Students have noticed fewer classes on Fridays, and while some professors say their departments aren't changing, others say changes are being made to their schedules.
The science department still prefers to teach Monday/ Wednesday/ Friday classes, chemistry professor Lisa Gentile said in an email response, but other schools such as the Business School and the Jepson School of Leadership Studies have seen changes over the last few years.
There have been several factors that have led to fewer Friday classes, most notably a scheduling overhaul that goes back several years, said Bob Nicholson of the Robins School of Business.
Just before the 2008 fall semester, Richmond changed from a credits system to a units system, he said. In the same year, the majority of classes went from 50 minutes to 75 minutes. As a result, several of the classes that met Monday/Wednesday/Friday for 50 minutes dropped the Friday time slot.
Nicholson is in charge of scheduling for the business school, and said that the 75-minute class time was something he thought Richmond ultimately sought to adapt throughout the curriculum, with the exception of the foreign languages.
With the majority of classes meeting only twice a week, classroom use is affected, he said.
"Entire rooms in the B-School are empty all day Friday," he said. "I bet of the 16 classrooms we have, only three of them are used at 8 a.m."
Mary Flowers, a senior business major with a concentration in marketing, said she had noticed a change in the schedule during her time at Richmond.
"My freshman year it seemed everything was Monday/ Wednesday/ Friday," she said. "When I registered this semester, there just weren't any Friday classes offered. Fifty minute classes just don't exist in the B-school anymore."
The 8 a.m. time slot for classes is also a large reason Friday class numbers don't match other days of the week, Nicholson said. Originally classes started at 8 a.m. on Monday/ Wednesday/ Friday, but after the scheduling change, the start time was moved to 9 a.m., Nicholson said.
"When the schedule changed, those 50-minute class periods in the morning really got screwed up," Nicholson said. "Now, if a professor had a Monday/ Wednesday/ Friday class at 9 a.m., class finished at 9:50 a.m., but the next class time wasn't until 10:30 a.m. So now we have created this awkward gap for students and professors to fill."
Nicholson also said that with fewer time slots, class sizes were forced to increase and start later in the day.
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The leadership school has also transitioned to the majority of its courses being offered twice a week for 75 minutes, said leadership professor Terry Price, who is in charge of scheduling. He said this transition had dissolved the Friday class period, and only 16 percent of the classes offered in the leadership school would meet on Fridays during the Spring semester.
Junior Emily Parisi, a leadership studies and psychology major, is registered next semester for psychopathology. She said this would be the first Friday class she would have taken in three semesters.
"If I have a choice to not take a class that meets on Friday, I will take the opportunity, but it's not something I look for when I register," Parisi said. "I did notice, though, that most of the leadership electives I wanted to take only met on Monday and Wednesday."
A low attendance rate on Fridays is not a reason Friday classes seem to be vanishing, but it is apparent that it is becoming more difficult to convince students to go to class, Nicholson said.
"For a class with no quiz or no test, I think Friday attendance is definitely down," he said. "I think it is also pretty widely accepted that students enjoy going out on Thursday nights as well."
Enjoying Thursday nights is one of many reasons Flowers said she had chosen to avoid Friday classes. Flowers said she would rather have a heavier work schedule earlier in the week and a longer weekend.
Although Friday classes are still around and some departments haven't seen changes, Nicholson still sees Richmond moving toward a three-day weekend."We are definitely trending to a four-day-week academic operation," he said. "Lots of faculty wouldn't agree with that, but it's true."
Contact reporter Rachael Bilney at firstname.lastname@example.org
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