There is a long-storied tradition in college education that about mid-way through the spring semester students are given a week off to catch up on sleep, rest, and schoolwork. The hope is that with this time off, students will be renewed and ready to refocus and finish the semester with a bang. But who am I kidding – many students use the time to work on their tans and act inappropriately on the beach or attack a ski slope. I guess these forms of escapism are useful in building focus for the remainder of the year.
What is less commonly mentioned is the fact that faculty need this break, too. For every dozen or so tired students needing to rest and catch up, there is a faculty member who needs it just as much. At McMurry we are just concluding spring break and will return to classes on Monday. Although rest and re-creation have been part of the formula for faculty, so has the “getting caught up” part of the equation.
Besides the normal “getting caught up” in our classes – grading in particular – the break has also been filled with other job-related activities. At the top of the list has been creation of the BIMS 4000 Junior Exam. One important component of our on-going program assessment and provision of evidence of student learning is the Junior Exam taken by all junior BIMS majors (thus the name ). It is an online exam composed of questions taken from all BIMS courses during the freshman and sophomore years. My responsibility is to collect these questions and input them into Moodle to create the exams. Students will take them as often as needed to obtain a passing score. Questions range from basic to advanced and cover all learning goals for BIMS majors. My goal is to have it ready for students by April 1st so they may have a month of unlimited attempts.
Also occupying Spring Break has been nearly daily work with our architect to refine the floorplan and equipment list for the microbiology and molecular biology labs to be renovated this summer. Though space will be tight, the facility will be a showcase of utility and student-centered learning spaces. Don’t worry- there’ll be plenty of updates on this as time goes on and everyone will be invited to the grand opening in the fall.
Can’t wait til Spring Break is over so I can take a break!