I taught during a summer session for the first time in 2010. Despite the vicious Arizona heat, it was a great experience and one that I look forward to repeating this year.
When I was in graduate school, I took a lot of summer courses to expedite graduation, and found that the classes varied in quality, just like they do during the regular academic sessions.
I like having my courses meet daily in the summer. When I teach during the regular semester, my courses generally meet only once a week. Students like having a whole week to complete their homework and prepare. And as a teacher, I like having nearly three hours of straight instruction. You lose less time to the housekeeping matters meeting once a week, at least in my experience, than you do meeting every day or every other day.
But the consolidated schedule of a summer course means that I meet with my students Monday through Thursday for two hours a day, eight hours a week, bam, bam, bam. Last summer, I found my classroom came to feel more cohesive than it usually does with everyone knowing each other better, and accepting each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The content of the course built up nicely. I was able to make connections in the material that seemed more logical and reviewing previous chapters wasn’t such a stretch.
My summer course had a higher retention rate than my regular classes during the academic year, perhaps because student loans generally don’t cover this “extra” semester. Students are paying for it with their own money. Their grades were higher, too, although I think I may have assigned more work since we moved through material at a solid pace.
What experience have you had teaching summer session? Do you feel that students are motivated or not? Are you able to cover all the material you should or is the schedule is too consolidated?