North Texas Daily

More in-person courses, club meetings possibly in store for spring semester

More in-person courses, club meetings possibly in store for spring semester

More in-person courses, club meetings possibly in store for spring semester
October 22
10:00 2020

The university is planning multiple changes for the 2021 spring semester, including an increase in face-to-face classes and the possibility of face-to-face co-curricular events.

The administration made the decision to increase the number of face-to-face classes due to the results of the university’s contact-tracing, according to Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jennifer Cowley.

“We haven’t had any instances of COVID-19 that are tied to the classrooms,” Cowley said. “We haven’t seen any spread within a classroom. That’s been really important for us to see that feedback in terms of case incidents so that we know that our social distancing and safety protocols in the classrooms are working. That gave us more confidence to be able to expand the number of in-person options that are available for students.”

In the Fall 2020 semester, 50.4 percent of classes were face-to-face, however, according to a graph Cowley sent to the North Texas Daily, the number will increase to 64.6 percent for the Spring semester. Other courses, such as partially in-person and online classes, will decrease. 

“More of the faculty are opting for fully in-person rather than partially in-person,” Cowley said. “We have the same priorities for what courses are to be in person, [including] courses for first-time-in-college students, experiential learning courses, and courses with high international enrollment. The courses that are prioritized for online learning are those that are large section sizes because it’s much harder to break those down into socially distanced classrooms. We are also adding a few more spaces into the inventory where we’ll be holding classes. Those are primarily laboratory environments that weren’t in use in the fall.”

Cowley said the university will also allow certain co-curricular groups to meet in-person in specific locations on campus in a trial starting Nov. 1 and lasting until Thanksgiving break.

“We are accepting the possibility of some co-curricular events and so we’ll have a pilot period […] where there will be limited events that will happen in person in three different locations,” Cowley said. “We will use the results of that to make determinations of whether we may be able to have more club related activities happen in the spring because I know many of our students want their clubs to have the chance to meet.”

Psychology sophomore Kaylen Ruiz said she prefers learning face-to-face. However, she is currently learning from home and said professors should continue including helpful resources for students in their course material for the upcoming semester. 

“There’s a lot of animosity surrounding students and professors right now,” Ruiz said. “But we really haven’t been giving them enough credit. All my professors so far have been very understanding of the situation. I love that professors are providing mental health resources in their syllabus.”

However, she said professors should limit the number of group projects being assigned in online classes going forward. 

“I am a very big advocate on collaboration,” Ruiz said. “I just feel like right now, as someone who is currently doing a project online, it’s kind of going amuck. I would advise professors to understand that it’s really hard to communicate with people during a pandemic. If [they] could ease off on group projects that would be really great. I know I speak for multiple students when I say it’s a nightmare having to contact every single person, not having a response and your grade being a reflection of that.”

Business computer information systems junior Chisom Obika, however, said the workload should be lightened for students in future semesters. 

“A lot of professors are throwing a bunch of assignments at students, probably because it’s really hard to teach effectively over Zoom,” Obika said. “No one is actually learning anything. We’re just trying to get things in […] [university administration] should try to limit how many assignments a professor can assign so they can decrease the amount of stress we have.”

Cowley said any specific changes to departments or classes are up to the faculty.

“As our faculty have had even more time to prepare, they’re finding what’s working [and] what’s not working,” Cowley said. “I expect them to continue making enhancements so their spring courses are even better than the fall.”

Featured Image: Scrappy the Eagle sits in the back of the UNT student union on Sept. 28, 2020. Image by John Anderson

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McKenna Cowley

McKenna Cowley

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