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April 28, 2003

Academic calendar
Faculty, staff favor different proposals

Lots of comments
Nearly 1,000 of the survey participants offered comments on the academic calendar. View comments.
A proposed academic calendar that adds a week to winter break and five minutes to the class period and includes a two-day class break in October is the favorite choice among those who recently ranked several calendar proposals in an online survey.

The proposal (B), which also lengthens the summer interval between spring and fall semesters by a week, was the top choice among faculty and students. Staff (both merit and professional and scientific) liked the current ISU calendar (A) best, with calendar proposal B earning second-place honors.

Nearly 4,100 faculty, staff and students participated in the online survey, which asked them to rank four calendar proposals developed by a presidential task force. While one of the calendar proposals (A) mirrors the current calendar, other proposals introduce new features to the academic calendar, such as later starting dates, longer class periods but shorter semesters, and a January mini-term during which students could complete three-credit courses in 10 or 13 days of concentrated classes.

Calendar preferences among various groups were calculated by averaging the rankings given to each of the four proposals. Each survey participant gave a "1" ranking to his or her favorite proposal and a "4" to the least favorite. Thus, calendar proposals with lower averages received more favorable rankings

Average rankings, ranging from "1" (favorite proposal) to "4" (least favorite proposal)
(* denotes top-ranked calendar in each group)
   Students Faculty and Staff   
Proposal        UnderGrad     Grad     Vet Med     Faculty     Merit     P&S     Grand Total
Calendar A 2.34 2.63 2.33 2.66 2.12* 2.13* 2.38
Calendar B 1.75* 1.99* 1.65* 2.07* 2.23 2.22 1.87*
Calendar C2.862.612.982.663.063.072.84
Calendar D 3.06 2.77 3.04 2.61 2.59 2.58 2.91

Students' least favorite calendar proposal was D, which extends winter break by a week and reduces the summer interval between spring and fall semesters by one week. In terms of first place rankings, 1,381 undergraduate students chose proposal B, 791 proposal A, 328 proposal C, and 161 proposal D.

There was no clear-cut least favorite proposal among faculty. Proposal A, the current calendar, and proposal C, which extends the current winter break by two weeks and adds five minutes to class periods, had the same weighted average ranking. However, the weighted average faculty ranking for those two proposals was only a few hundredths of a point from the average ranking for the faculty's second-favorite calendar -- D, which extends winter break and reduces the summer interval between spring and fall semesters. In terms of first place rankings, 214 faculty chose proposal B, 142 proposal A, 116 proposal D, and 108 proposal C.

P&S and merit staff gave their lowest rankings to proposal C, which extends the current winter break and class periods. In terms of first place rankings, 217 staff chose proposal A, 148 chose proposal B, 64 chose proposal C and 63 chose proposal D.

The Academic Calendar Task Force recently submitted the four calendar proposals to President Gregory Geoffroy, who is seeking broad input from the campus community on the calendars.

Geoffroy thanked those who participated in the online survey. "The rankings and comments from students, faculty, and staff will be extremely valuable as we analyze the merits of these calendar proposals over the summer," Geoffroy said.

Geoffroy said he will update the campus community early next fall and seek additional input before selecting a proposal to recommend to the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

Arne Hallam, chair of the economics department, led the 12-member Academic Calendar Task Force that developed the proposals.

The online survey drew responses from 2,661 undergraduate students, 296 graduate students, 46 veterinary medicine students, 580 faculty, 351 P&S staff and 141 merit staff.

Geoffroy said the new calendar will be implemented as soon as it's feasible, given the need for coordination with on- and off-campus groups.

More information

Summary of
Alternative Proposals
Proposal A   Proposal B   Proposal C   Proposal D  
Weeks of instruction
(not including finals)
15 14 14 15
Class length (minutes) on MWF 50 55 55 50
Class length (minutes) on TR 75-80 85 85 75-80
Approximate weeks of winter break 3 4 5 4
Days in winter mini-semester 0 10 13 10
Range of fall start dates Aug 20-26 Aug 27 - Sep 2   Aug 27 - Sep 2   Aug 20-26
Range of fall commencement dates Dec 15-21 Dec 15-21 Dec 15-21 Dec 15-21
Two-day break in October No Yes Yes No
Range of spring start dates Jan 8-14 Jan 18-24 Jan 25-31 Jan 16-22
Range of spring commencement dates May 5-11 May 5-11 May 11-18 May 11-18
Instructional weeks in summer 12 12 12 11
Weeks between spring and fall semesters   15 16 15 14

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