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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Columns

Did these icy holidays freeze out learning?


Campus may have looked beautiful with a layer of ice and snow, but if professors leave material out of their courses again as they did after Harvey, the missed education will be less pretty. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

 

A series of weather incidents that kicked off the fall and spring semesters — Hurricane Harvey, then our icy cold snap — has robbed UH students of several school days and countless opportunities.

The lack of academic accommodations for these days and the countless missed opportunities they presented are serious.

During the vacation days for Hurricane Harvey, syllabuses and curricula took serious hits as many professors removed chapters and assignments to accommodate the shortened class time. Instead, they should have made the changes transparent and given students ample opportunity to learn the material on their own. It’s not too late to make this semester different. 

The extent of dismissed lessons can be far more vast than we realize. For example, in one of my most adored classes last semester, Intro to Political Theory, the professor had to remove an entire novel from the syllabus. The class maintained its value to me educationally, but I have no way of knowing how this dismissed content could have shaped my learning and perspectives.

Many friends of mine in different majors, such as biology, engineering and accounting, felt a similar impact on their education as a result of this stolen time. 

Professors should have attempted to condense their schedules as opposed to just removing content. The missed days could have been supported by more concentrated class time, allowing students to receive just as full an education.

An average three credit hour class is priced at $1,108, and most students are taking 9 to 15 credit hours a week. This tuition money is paid under the impression that students will receive a full education and be compensated academically for missed days.

Concerns for student and faculty safety must be weighed relative to the cost of losing educational time. This issue is aggrandized by the diversity of college student schedules. It is immensely difficult to cater such a variety of students, especially on a campus with such an immense commuter presence like the University of Houston.

Naturally, the vacation days were provided as a result of the unsafe conditions present in both situations. Just as students could not get to campus in the wake of Harvey, the danger of driving on the iced roads for this mainly commuter campus was too great, and as a result we missed two days.

Safety is more important than education, but the tuition students paid to attend UH should be honored. Professors who cut material from their courses in the fall should reverse those mistakes and be sure to provide opportunities to comprehend any missed content this time.  

These two vacation days led to an incredible lost of instructional time, but that does not mean they cannot be caught up. While it may pose a challenge to append syllabuses and calendars to allow for these condensed lessons, it is a much greater obstacle for students to comprehend the information on their own.

The decision to cancel class was an attempt to extend us a more flexible schedule, but it might come at the expense of the student body’s learning. 

Anusheh Siddique is a finance freshman and can be reached at [email protected]

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