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Kansas State University's shorter classes yield long-term results

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

MANHATTAN – A few short classes that began at Kansas State University in 1971 have grown to nearly a hundred classes and 1,500 enrollments per year.

Intersession, the short timeframe between standard university semesters, allows students to complete an entire class in three weeks. A controversial concept for a land-grant institution when it began 45 years ago, intersession offered elective courses that served both students and faculty.

"Intersession was originally established to give faculty an opportunity to experiment with new topics," said Sue Maes, dean of K-State Global Campus. "Classes allowed instructors to create a topic based on their expertise or try different teaching techniques or ways to deliver a course. In the beginning, and still today, it's a way for an instructor to implement something new."

Courses offered during intersession started as on-campus offerings and expanded to online courses in 2008, reaching hundreds more students around the world. About two-thirds of all intersession enrollments today are in its online courses, helping students earn credits even when they're away from campus.

Jo Maseberg-Tomlinson, intersession coordinator at Kansas State University, says students utilize intersession to get closer to their degree while concurrently working, interning, studying abroad, or going home between semesters.

"Intersession provides students with time to study a specific topic intensely while keeping them on track to graduate and move into the job market," Maseberg-Tomlinson said. "They investigate topics they wouldn't normally have time for, while also having a productive, immersive experience."

But not only are intersession classes immersive and time-efficient; research indicates that intensive courses can facilitate academic achievement.

"Students perform and meet learning objectives as well in accelerated formats as they do in traditional-length semester courses," Maes said. "One study indicated that intensive courses improved group discussions and interaction between students and faculty. They promote active learning so students retain the information long-term."

The research study, "Course scheduling formats and their impact on student learning," through the National Teaching and Learning Forum, is one of many studies reporting the benefits of accelerated courses for students.

"Intersession was and continues to be a way Kansas State University can provide more course options to help students succeed," Maseberg-Tomlinson said.

Upcoming May and August intersession classes are part of the summer semester and will be offered May 16-June 3 or Aug. 1-19. Start the process to take — or teach — an intersession class at http://global.k-state.edu/intersession.

Source: Sue Maes, 785-532-5644, scmaes@k-state.edu; and Jo Maseberg-Tomlinson, 785-532-2570, jam4545@k-state.edu
Written by
Rosanna Vail, 785-532-2720, rvail@k-state.edu
K-State News and Communications Services