Pima block party

PCC ponders a new scheduling system for students reminiscent of high school

By NICHOLAS TRUJILLO

Block scheduling: This method often is the way high schools dictate what classes students can take on certain days.

This type of scheduling format, however, may be coming to Pima Community College.

It’s important to note the schedules that PCC makes wouldn’t be set in stone. If the set courses didn’t work for students, according to Lamata Mitchell, vice president of instruction, the students could pick and choose from the schedule.

“It’s not going to take away the choice,” Mitchell said. “We’re trying to get students to complete on time closer to the two-year mark with the credits they need and without them taking excess credits on the way.”

There will be five types of scheduling that will be implemented.

For example, many students with children only can take classes in the afternoons. The Midday or Afternoon Cohort accommodates those with free time around noon to 4 p.m.

There are Cohorts that accommodate all students’ schedules.

“I would preferably choose the morning,” said Student Senate Chairman Evan Richardson. “I’m a morning person and it would allow me to work at night. It’s also something really important that this block scheduling will allow. It will allow students to take a full-time college schedule and allow students to work around their school schedule.”

Richardson is looking at transferring to the University of Arizona for a business major. He took classes he thought would transfer and winged it from the get-go. In his case, it worked, and  he is now on track to transferring.

However, this is not the story for many students who are taking extra credits they don’t need or are double dipping. Double dipping is taking a group of classes more often than you need to. For example, some students take a math class three times though it’s only needed once.

“Personally, as a two-year transfer student, I am in favor of the Guided Pathways initiative and block scheduling,” Richardson said. “It makes it so students will have to pick their major before they go through Pima, but it makes it feasible rather than the situation we run into with a lot of students that they are taking a lot of classes that don’t actually count for what they are going for – a lot of wasted credits.”

Yet this will not take away from those who want to take an extra course on their pathway to a degree.

“They need to be aware of how much time that it’s going to take for them to complete their desired program,” Mitchell said. “It’s just an awareness for them so they aren’t caught by surprise at the end. We just give them the information and they make the choice.”

The block scheduling also will help students who have obstacles in life like the changing schedules of a job or anything that could get in the way of a student’s school schedule.

“We also need to talk to students and figure out their challenges,” Mitchell said.

These challenges are taking a class that fits perfectly with a student’s schedule one semester only to have its times change the next semester.

The scheduling will stay static through each semester, Mitchell said.

If students have questions about block scheduling, they can find Mitchell at the Downtown Campus in RV-149.

Block scheduling is just one of the seven initiatives that was created by Complete College America. Gregg Busch, vice president of instruction at PCC, is heading all seven initiatives that will be introduced to students in the coming semester.

All initiatives are being implemented currently, yet they will become more apparent in future semesters, according to Busch.

Busch is also the head of the state group, Complete College Arizona, which oversees all of the colleges where this initiative is happening.

Colleges like Arizona State University already have implemented the initiatives and have seen a major increase in fresh retention, which is at 84 percent, according to Complete College America.

ASU also saw an increase in freshman that were deemed on track, or freshman that knew where they are going in the college and what they wanted to do after they graduate. According to Complete College America, three years ago only 22 percent of freshmen were on track. Now 91 percent of freshmen are on track.

“It all happens simultaneously, you’re hearing about block scheduling and it being developed and beta tested,” Busch said. “All of the counselors and advisors are going through training right now so they can have deeper discussions with students on informed choices. All these are taking place in the background and students are seeing this. Block scheduling is just one small piece.”

 

Photo courtesy of Complete College America, This is an example of the beta testing of the block schedule for Downtown and Northwest campuses.

 

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