BY ASHLEY NEQUEST
As second semester begins students are already planning how they will be spending their Study Week, more commonly referred to as Reading Week or spring break. That week away from campus is a time students look forward to all year-long. Those who have been waiting for their vacation will be happy to know that starting in the 2016-2017 school year, some programs at Conestoga College will be receiving a second week off, and a third for those enrolled in spring semesters.
The college has labelled these weeks, as well as the week off in February, “Student Success Weeks.” The new breaks will take place Oct. 24-28, 2016 and June 26-30, 2017, though they will not be for all programs.
Amy Kendall, an academic administrator at Conestoga College, referred to the addition of the October break as a pilot run. Programs from the School of Business, the School of Media and Design and the School of Liberal Studies will be the first to try it out. Kendall said the college does not want to go back to having just the break in February, but to roll out these breaks to as many programs as possible as quickly as possible. They anticipate additional programs joining the new scheduling in the 2017-2018 school year.
The additional breaks, as well as the name of all three, are all about the students. The goal is to enable students to get support, catch up and breathe.
“We do a lot of project-based learning, having a lot of projects coming in and not really the opportunity to sit back and reflect on all the learning that’s occurring,” said Mark Derro, dean of the School of Media and Design. “This will give the students the opportunity to take that breathing space and do that. It’s a time for reflective analysis and to look at where their own strengths and weaknesses are, give them a chance to take a breath and pick up the skills they are missing and integrate the learning that is happening across multiple courses into their bigger projects. It’s really the opportunity to regroup, regather your thoughts and go onto the next part of the marathon.”
During the time off Student Services will still be available. With the entire goal behind the extra time off being to support students, tutoring, counselling and other support services will be at the ready for students who need it.
With only some of the programs taking part in the pilot project there may be some concern as to how the material being “missed” that week will be made up. Quite simply Conestoga’s education plans rely on covering course outcomes, thus the hours that are missed will not be an issue. According to Kendall, classes and assignments will still cover the necessary outcomes, just with a few less class hours.
In terms of workload, the time off is for students to catch up and plan ahead, not a time for new assignments.
“We’ve actually made it very clear that no new assignments will be assigned for that week,” said Kendall. “This is an opportunity to take a look at where they are … work on existing assignments but also look at if they need to adjust their study skills or other aspects of their schooling.”