Since I’ve started teaching courses at the university level, the classes that I have taught have been 1 hour timeslots three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, or 1.5 hour slots on Tuesdays and Thursdays between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. This semester I taught a 3 hour class for the first time and it was on a Monday evening.
I think that when dealing with timeslots that you haven’t experienced before that it is important to go into the experience with an open mind. Prior to teaching this particular course I spoke with some colleagues who had done 3 hour classes before to get an idea of what they liked and didn’t like about the experience. I also went online and looked more broadly about what other professors said about preparing for and teaching a 3 hour class.
Here are my lists of pros and cons that I experienced:
1) I liked teaching once per week as opposed to 2 or 3 lecture slots per week. I think this considerably decreased my overall stress level because my days weren’t as fragmented this term. While I enjoy teaching, it was great to know that my classroom time was completed by 10 p.m. on Monday. I felt like the rest of the week was open and full of possibilities.
2) Monday evening was a good timeslot as my students were coming off a weekend and were definitely more lively than if the class had been scheduled in the early morning. Getting them to participate in class was fairly easy.
3) I never felt rushed going through my teaching material. I also felt that I could deliver the material more efficiently and in less time in a single 3 hour block compared to three 1 hour blocks.
4) I was able to offer my students some class time to work on a major group project.
1) Three hours is a long time to teach and to hold the attention of students. The first hour was always good. I then gave a 10 minute break and we launched into the second hour. After that I gave a 5 minute break and moved on to the last hour. I have to admit that the 3rd hour was pretty tough. I was starting to get tired and holding the full attention of the students was very challenging because they were reaching the limits of their ability to focus.
2) It was disheartening to lose a few students after each break. The vast majority did stay for the second hour, but larger numbers left during the second break. This was at its worst on my very last day of class.
3) I found it harder to run active learning exercises in a 3 hour class compared to a 1 hour class. This might have been because there was more time and less urgency to get through an activity and I think this threw off my sense of timing a bit.
4) If a student missed class on Monday evening, they missed a lot of material.
Overall, I liked teaching a 3 hour class Monday evenings and it’s given me a lot to think about in terms of my teaching, classroom management, and pedagogy.