Are 11 Weeks Weak? A Conversation With Instructors
Contemporary Issues in Education Research (CIER)
Undergraduate programs in the United States range from locally funded, two-year community colleges, to state and federally funded universities, as well as private, tuition-based institutions. Assumingly most programs attempt to facilitate a relevant and balanced curriculum that prepares students for the general and perhaps specific obstacles that they will experience in a professional environment. Successful curricula may also attempt to prepare students for the social, cultural and economic
... ral and economic challenges that they will experience in their personal life. The question of how various programs implement this fundamental yet daunting task has been in the past and assuredly will remain a part of academia, research studies and discussions. In general, these debates relate to the breadth of a program. However, within this arena, the pertinent factor is a program's length—the number of credit hours congruent to or with the duration of a quarter or a semester that are required to achieve a particular degree. This aspect may be of significance to prospective students, their parents, spouses and other individuals who potentially hold a role in the selection of the student's educational process and future. Undeniable factors in the decision-process include admission's work, the program itself, the degree offering, the reputation of the institution, cost of credit hours, the school's physical location and its supporting environment—including housing accommodation, libraries, activity centers, proximity to family and workplace. Regardless of the various options, some individuals make the decision to enroll in an 11-week quarter-based educational model. The Art Institutes utilize this educational model at their thirty-five locations across the United States and two facilities in Canada. This system leads us to the question: do eleven weeks provide sufficient time for a student to interpret, analyze and demonstrate the course objectives? With an effort to advocate open-minded and non-conformist responses questions relating to this topic were asked in an informal setting—to new and experienced instructors who currently teach full or part-time at The Art Institute of Dallas. All possess a Masters or terminal degree in their fields of instruction and have been teaching in higher education for five or more years. Data from these conversations was gathered and has become the essence of this paper. Readers may assume current faculty advocate this model in order to maintain active employment. However, those assumptions are erroneous. The relevance of this research is important to prospective students, parents and all the individuals involved in higher education across the continuum of five- to seventeen-week terms. Those individuals can 'hear' the pros and cons (if any) of such a model from instructors themselves. This inquiry contributes to the conversations and value as found and defined by instructors. Via their research, the authors hope to facilitate a dialogue that advocates/or does not advocate the institution of an 11-week educational model amongst all the interested individuals in higher education. A deeper level of understanding and respect for instructors who successfully teach in quarter-based educational models can be obtained. Administrators may find value in this research for economic and accounting reasons. Both the authors clearly understand that the 'instructor' is only one component of any successful educational model. Opinions from others such as the students and alumni are also of immense value. These individuals will be addressed in their further studies.