Ivy Tech Columbus offering more 8-week classes


By Jo Ann Hallawell

Earning a college degree can be costly and time-consuming. Ivy Tech Community College already addresses the cost with the lowest tuition rates in the state.

Now the college is introducing a new academic structure that could potentially reduce the time it takes students to complete a certificate or degree.

Beginning with the fall 2018 semester, students will see a significant increase in the number of eight-week course offerings at the Ivy Tech Columbus campus. These eight-week course sections span across most all disciplines with offerings the first and/or second eight weeks of the traditional 16-week semester.

For the fall 2018 term, there will still be some 16-week course offerings, but over time the 16-week format is expected to be reduced.

Before embarking on this new strategy, Ivy Tech examined internal data and results from other colleges –- four-year institutions and community colleges that moved to eight-week courses — and found compelling evidence that students tend to perform better academically in courses delivered in an eight-week format compared to the same course offered in a longer timeframe.

After much research and discussion about the benefits of eight-week courses for student success, persistence and completion, Ivy Tech is taking a bold step by moving to this new course delivery timeframe.

Courses still will be be offered as traditional (face-to-face), hybrid (combination of traditional and online) and completely online. In the eight-week format, students will be able to focus on fewer subjects at one time. They might also reduce the number of courses taken at any one time.

Due to outside obligations, many students simply cannot commit to completing courses over a 16-week period. Often, around week 9 or 10, they lose momentum, which often results in poor academic performance, or dropping out completely.

However, most students have the capacity and stamina to complete courses in a condensed eight-week format. While students might attend more hours per week in the eight-week format, they will do so for a shorter time period.

Students attending full-time can still maintain a full-time schedule in the eight-week format. In fact, students might decide to complete certificates or degrees at a quicker pace by enrolling in more courses both of the eight-week sessions. We already see great success with students enrolled in our Associate Accelerated Program (ASAP). These students complete an associate degree in just 11 months, taking most all of their courses in the eight-week format.

The majority of Ivy Tech students attend part-time because juggling four or five courses over a 16-week period, while also working and tending to other obligations, can be challenging. The eight-week format will work well for part-time students, too, as they will be making a shorter time-commitment. Many of these students may even discover they can manage their schedule better in the eight-week format and actually become full-time students by taking more courses each eight-week session.

Another advantage of offering courses in an eight-week format is providing a second entry point for students to start classes during a semester. In a 16-week format, students need to be ready to start their courses in August or January. Since courses will now also begin the second eight-weeks of a semester, students can begin taking classes in October and March, too.

Ivy Tech is known for taking innovative approaches to support student success and to help them achieve their goals. Eight-week courses will provide new opportunities for students to complete more classes sooner, for a quicker transition to a four-year institution, or into the workforce.

Jo Ann Hallawell is vice chancellor for academic affairs at the Ivy Tech Columbus campus. Send comments to [email protected].

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