by Lauren Eller
Not all .25-credit classes are created equal. Or so they say.
Some of these classes, which provide half the credit of a regular course, often have a reputation at Kenyon for having heavier workloads than other .25 credit classes, even with the same intensity as a full .5 course.
But there are reasons behind the .25 credit structure, though some students may feel some such offerings are equivalent in workload to .5 classes.
Kay Burrows ’18, who is enrolled in introductory biology and chemistry labs, both of which count for .25 credit, said the workload in those classes is close to that in her .5 lecture courses. “I feel like I spend probably more time doing things in lab,” she said. “It might not be as difficult, especially since we don’t take tests, but I feel [I spend] more time on lab than I do on lecture homework.”
Christopher Bickford, assistant professor of biology, runs .25 science labs. “I would say there’s a moderate workload outside of the class,” he said.
Though science labs may have a reputation as more rigorous .25 classes in terms of the work required, Christian Lee ’18, who is enrolled in both an introductory physics lab and an introductory dance class — each worth .25 credit — said he has not experienced much discrepancy between his classes so far. “In terms of the work and time commitment, I think they’re about the same at this point,” Lee said.
Bickford described the key differences between .5 and .25 science courses: “Where that outside work happens … may be a little different,” he said. “In a lecture course … the work is kind of front-loaded … We expect students to come to class prepared to discuss the material. We expect you to come to lab prepared to do the lab but the level of preparation might not take quite the time that it would in a lecture class.”
Lee said there is not intended to be much work for his physics lab outside of class besides reading the lab manual and perhaps finishing write-ups not done in class, and that his dance class requires a bit of external work at some points as well.
“Our technique classes are .25 but our theory classes are .5,” Professor of Dance Julie Brodie said. “And there are a couple reasons we’ve done this. We do require less outside work for our technique classes and there’s usually some kind of written response, some readings that are associated with the class work, but it’s not as extensive.”
Brodie said making technique classes .25 credit allows students to take as many of them as possible in order to keep up their skills without exceeding the total credit limit each semester.
“We need for our majors and minors to be taking technique on a regular basis, which means that they have to repeat those courses, and they add them as overloads,” she said. “For that to be feasible for them, we can’t really require as much outside work.”
The methodology for .25 labs in the science department is similar. For many science majors, it can be difficult to fit all the required lectures and labs into their schedules without weighting certain classes less than others.
“In order to squeeze or fit all the classes in that you need to get a science degree, by necessity it’s the labs that end up having .25 credit value associated with it,” Bickford said.
Balinda Craig-Quijada, professor of dance, added that the .25 structure of technique classes allows for non-majors to fit them into their schedules more easily. “What we like about that [is] … our dancers … need to keep working and keep that facility ongoing … but also it really opens up our classes to non-majors and people outside the department who perhaps need fine arts,” she said. “They can take a modern class, a ballet class, African dance and those sorts of things, and they don’t have to necessarily decide whether they’re going to take a class in their major or take a dance class. They can do both,” Craig-Quijada said.
As for the workload of .25 classes, professors try to keep that in mind when allocating outside-of-class work. Bickford said he tries to “remain cognizant of the fact that lab courses are .25 credits.”