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Winter Session - What would you do the same? What would you change?

Posted By Shelley Dempsey, Thursday, February 16, 2017

We are playing around with ideas for a winter session, and I'm curious to hear from those of you who are doing it well - and those who found that it didn't work for your campus.  What things would you do the same?  And what would you do differently if you could start over? 

Thank you!

Shelley - Univ of South Carolina

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Jeanie Kline says...
Posted Thursday, February 16, 2017
Hi, Shelley, ODU (Norfolk) launched a winter term pilot this past Dec-Jan, and it was a huge hit. We filled 9 classes within a few days of the opening of registration. Both faculty and students overwhelmingly--though not unanimously--said they would do it again. We analyzed DFW rates compared to those same classes offered in a more traditional semester and they all were better, with one exception. We plan to expand winter term in the coming years after the successful launch of this pilot.
Jeanie Kline
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Rachel Nottingham Miller says...
Posted Thursday, February 16, 2017
Hi Shelley! Another Virginian here. We've had January Term at the University of Virginia for over a decade now. Our instructors and students report its the most exhausting, rewarding time of the year. We have about 40 class offered in Charlottesville, a few others elsewhere in the US, and around 15 abroad each year. Each class is three credits. Our winter term is shorter in duration than many of our peers - only two weeks, with classes meeting 4 to 5 hours per day. Those extended days allow for day trips to sites of interest (e.g. our Virginia Gov't and Politics class spends a day in Richmond each year) or for workshopping art, writing, theater pieces throughout the day. Like ODU, we started with a pilot and grew slowly from there. Some classes work better than others, some are more appealing to students than others. Best of luck as you design your program!

Rachel Nottingham Miller
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Alicia Bingham says...
Posted Friday, February 17, 2017
At Western Kentucky University (WKU), we just completed our 12th Winter Term. Enrollment has been steady at about 10% of our Fall population takes classes over winter term (over 2,000 students each winter). We have around 300 classes available. Although online courses are our most popular, we saw growth in on-campus classes this year because we offered a few classes specifically for international students. The winter term does lend itself to travel opportunities, and that is another area of growth each year. We are a revenue dependent unit, so it's an incentive for departments to offer classes during winter because we give a portion back to them. Faculty enjoy an additional stipend at the end of January for their effort. It's a win-win for most everyone involved. The only pushback we have received is that we had to push our spring semester back one week. We start spring the week AFTER MLK day, so for students that do not participate in Winter Term, this creates a long (nearly 6 weeks) break between fall and spring. Happy to help answer any other questions if you have them!
Alicia
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Jacob Askeroth says...
Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Hi Shelley,
We are actually in the proposal/approval stages of a starting a fully-online winter session pilot here at Purdue, so we are also certainly interested in what other institutions are doing in terms of a winter session and how it is working out. We received a lot of positive feedback from students via an online survey that indicated that there is strong interest in taking winter courses and we have also seen quite a bit of interest from the faculty departments in offering courses. We are still exploring whether or not the session will be 3 or 4 weeks (Purdue's winter recess is only 3 weeks -- I'm impressed that UVA does their winter session in 2 weeks!) so we still do not know if it will fit neatly in between the fall and spring semesters or have a slight overlap with either of them.
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Danielle Lindsey says...
Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2017
At Illinois State University we completed a pilot Winter Session between our Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters. We offered 7 courses, 1 hybrid Communication-special topics course that included practicum experience with our home Redbird basketball games, and 6 online courses. They were 4 weeks and did not overlap with the fall or spring term. The billing and grades were all part of the spring semester. All but one were at the undergraduate level. The graduate-level course was in Nursing. All the courses filled very well and students were successful based on faculty feedback and compared with students' success in the same course in the summer condensed format. Student feedback on our survey indicated that they were overall very satisfied with their experience and offered suggestions for other courses they would like to see offered in a future Winter Session. The faculty also had good experiences and would be interested in teaching in Winter Session again however, we did pay a flat stipend amount and some faculty commented that they get paid more for teaching the same 4 week course in the summer (because we have a different pay structure for summer).
We will offer another Winter Session however we need to determine how much should/can we grow. Total enrollment for the 7 courses was 183 students. Due to our student information system we had some manual processes to make this work and if we increase the number of courses/enrollment it will have a significant impact on our human resources, primarily in the Registrar's Office. Another concern is by teaching over the semester break, we do not have 'down-time' for our system upgrades etc..which creates some stress for our tech staff especially those who work with our learning management system. We also need to determine how to handle Winter Session when our semester break is only 3 weeks due to the academic calendar. I am happy to answer any questions. - Danielle Lindsey
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Bowling Green State University says...
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Hi all:

We will be starting our first Winter session here at Bowling Green State University in January, 2019. It will run 3 weeks. In terms of business operations it will technically be part of the Spring semester, but will likely be marketed / promoted as a standalone "Wintermester" sort of thing. At this point, we are anticipating that the majority of the classes offered will be online or experiential, but it's too soon to tell right now.
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Steven J. Shablin says...
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Very helpful information!

What are the issues that were unanticipated when you implemented a Wintermester?
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Steven Girardot says...
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Everyone, This thread on winter sessions has generated a lot of great discussion. I am chairing the NAASS 2017 annual conference committee. We will soon be issuing the call for proposals for the conference which occurs in November (12-15). I think a panel session or even possibly a pre-con workshop would be a great idea. Please consider it.
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Janet M. Lange says...
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Bradley University has offered a winter session for at least 25 years. Our session is named January Interim and the students refer to it as J-Term. It has been very successful. Students may take up to 4 hours over a period of about two weeks. In 2017 we had 127 courses with 709 students enrolled, generating 1,850 student semester hours. 36% of the courses were online. We are a private institution and we charge our regular part-time tuition rate, which in Januar was $850 per credit hour. Graduate and undergraduate courses are offered from all five of our academic colleges, with 40% offered by Liberal Arts and Sciences. Students use these courses to improve their GPA, catch up, get ahead, and graduate on time. In addition, Bradley offers a two week Study Abroad program in London, Paris, and next year in Costa Rica. We also offer a similar program in May in five cities. Please let me know if you would like more information.
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Susanna Cowan says...
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2017
UConn has had a 3-week Winter Session (Winter Term...we're fluid in what we call it, depending on how we're marketing it) since 1997. In the first decade, it was traditional courses made more intensive by running 4 or 5 (mostly 5) days a week, in person. In 2002, worry crept up to the Univ. Senate about the integrity of the session (academically speaking) and they launched an ad hoc committee to review the session, with particular focus on student and faculty perceptions. The findings? That both students and faculty were on the whole satisfied--and even spoke of the advantages that the extra-rigorous session had for delving deeply in to subjects.
Since then, "online happened." In the past several years, we've seen in Winter both the greatest growth overall, and the swiftest growth in mode (i.e. towards online). In Winter '16, about 63% of enrollment was online; this winter it was around 78% of enrollment.
Do over? I don't know. If we'd seen online coming back when (long before my time), perhaps we would have built a more flexible shell that could expand/contract. The number of weeks between the end of fall finals and the start of spring semester can vary--online is much less limited in terms of flexing to meet available time. We toy with a concurrent 4- or 5-week online session. But it's so successful right now...we're wary of making any big change without good reason do so so.
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Jo Maseberg-Tomlinson says...
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2017
Our Intersession is in its 46th year. Online courses have become predominant, and really get good enrollments. We primarily offer topics courses that count as required electives. Students tend to be juniors/seniors and do well. Our January Intersession is part of Spring term, which helps students pay for it (they're eligible for financial assistance) and they can lighten their load for the Spring term if they have a really challenging course (take 3 hours in January Intersession, then only enroll in 9 for the rest of the term and still be fulltime with 12 hours). If I could do one thing differently, it might be to move it to the tail end of Fall term. So many student athletes desperately need a last minute course for their eligibility. I believe the University of New Mexico has a "trailing" Fall term Intersession in December. The other thing I would suggest is that you staff appropriately. Our large land grant university essentially shuts down for at least the first week of Intersession, and I am the only person checking email and working with students. There are always issues where students can't enroll because Registrar's is closed or Admissions is closed. Think about what resources you will have available on campus, and if you don't have them, what are backup plans? Our Intersession is just 3 weeks, but it helps a lot of students keep on track for graduation.
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Gary Simon says...
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2017
Per Steven's suggestion, I am interested in moderating a panel on Winter Intersession. We started a WI two years ago at The University of Tampa, and it is very popular with students and faculty. I expect it to continue growing. If you are interested in being on this panel, send me an email, gsimon@ut.edu, and I'll submit the proposal for the conference. This can be an exciting and very informative session with representatives new to WI and others who have been at it for some time.
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St. Olaf College says...
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2017
St. Olaf College has offered Interim (J-Term) since 1964. We have a 4-1-4 calendar. Interim length is 20 class days. Students must complete 3 of the 4 Interims as part of the graduation requirement. Tuition is split between the fall and spring semester billing. There is no tuition refund if a student decides not to take an Interim off. Registration is limited to one course per Interim. We offer many innovative courses on campus and abroad during this term.
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Shelley Dempsey says...
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2017
Thank you all so much for your feedback! I'm new to NAASS and thrilled to see it's such a helpful resource. Thank you again!

Shelley - Univ of South Carolina
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Steven Girardot says...
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2017
Shelley: Welcome to NAASS! I look forward to meeting you. Are you familiar with the regional conferences coming up? Our region (southern) and middle states are jointly hosting the conference in New Orleans, Mar. 5-7. Would love to see you there.
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Shelley Dempsey says...
Posted Sunday, February 26, 2017
Hi Steven - I'll be there! Looking forward to it!

Thank you,
Shelley
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