Due to COVID-19, Riverside Secondary School in Port Coquitlam, similar to many schools in the Province, changed their education program starting in September 2020. The plan to change from the traditional two semester system to a Quarter system and this has impacted all students and teachers. There are a variety of opinions as to the Pros and Cons of each system.
With the traditional semester, students take four classes in each one with four blocks each day of each course. With the Quarter system students take two classes over four semesters.
Is this new way of scheduling better and will it become the standard for future years? To determine this a few teachers and students at Riverside shared their thoughts about this new Quarter semester system.
Some teachers are enjoying the Quarter system. “I was concerned at first about the Quarter system but after a hectic start I am enjoying teaching classes in the Quarter system. I like having two courses and having extra daily class time during learning groups as it gives students more time to extend and apply their learning in class and at home,” said Mr. Shane Ford, an Information Technology teacher at Riverside. From an educational perspective, teachers see both benefits and pitfalls. “I like that you get extra time to work with students on projects; however, sometimes I feel that 2.5 months is more difficult to see growth within a subject area. Whereas the semester schedule with 5 months allows for more development,” said Mr. Brian Barazzuol, an English teacher at Riverside.
There are also concerns that the Quarter system impacts the school’s culture as well as the student’s ability to catch up. “I find it a bit more isolating with less movement in the hallways. Also, I find that when in a classroom for so long, some students lose focus on the task at hand. Also, I think that if a student misses multiple days it is more difficult to catch up. Overall, I think it is a harder schedule for students,” said Barazzuol.
Some students prefer the semester system such as Riverside Grade 12 student Yejoon Choi. “I dislike the two-hour classes; it feels too long but at the same time it feels like we are not doing the work of two normal classes.”
Another concern with the Quarter system is if the course curriculum is being mastered in the condensed time. “It is too early to tell, but I definitely think there are advantages to both. The semester system allows for more digestion of material and longer timeframes to create meaningful projects, but the Quarter system allows for relationships to grow at a quicker rate allowing stronger connections between student peers and teachers,” said Barazzuol. Ford develops further on the Semester and Quarter systems versus a Linear one “In my classes students who are engaged by technology are driving their learning in the Quarter System. Some students who are less engaged with the subjects struggle to be productive in the hybrid model. Overall, I think that both systems have benefits. I strongly prefer the Semester and Quarter Systems over a Linear System.” Another common opinion among teachers is that the Quarter system works very well for some electives, such as Art, Auto and the Tech Ed. courses: primarily because students and teachers have a longer time to get into projects without being rushed for cleanup.
It has been a different school year so far for students and teachers and it looks like everyone has adapted well to the Quarter system and it could very well be something that is implemented for future years and could end up working out well.