Four-week Winter Term: No Time to Chill


Academic Calendar for the 2020 Winter Session. Photo/UNCP Website.

UNCP is now offering four-week classes that will be made available this December. Previously, the school only offered courses during fall, spring and summer.

During the pandemic UNCP students have been able to create schedules that consist of courses that are held online, face-to-face or in hybrid format. However, this will not be an option for the new winter session, which will be offered strictly online.

The idea of a winter session is not a new one. UNCP piloted a version of it last December that was only online and only General Education courses. The faculty were required to let the students pace themselves around their holiday schedules. Four classes were offered across four different departments and averaged 15.5 students each.

Dr. Aaron Vandermeer, chair of the Department of Music, taught Introduction to Jazz Appreciation last winter. He said a winter term helps students “get a little bit ahead on their Gen Ed requirements… [and potentially] lighten their load for the spring.”

Vandermeer said it ended up being about three weeks of instructional days and he enjoyed it. “It was the best off-term class I’ve had, compared with regular teaching in Maymester and Summer One,” he said.

This year the courses will not be limited to General Education courses and will expand into major and minor courses, according to Dr. Richard Gay, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.

Despite the expansion of course options, students will not be able to register for much more than one course. They will be limited to four credit hours. Dr. Gay said the university doesn’t want students to “attempt too many hours and put themselves at a disadvantage or hinder their progress towards completing their degrees.”

“Limiting winter session to [an average of] one course helps students focus on these fast-paced courses,” Gay said. The decision was made in the interest of professors and students alike.

This year the self-paced option is not required of faculty, according to Dr. Scott Billingsley, Associate Provost, which means this time the instructor may determine the pace of the course and due dates for assignments, although the dates of the term are Nov. 30 to Dec. 30 and include an official university holiday, Dec. 24 – 25.

Like last year’s pilot program, only full-time faculty will be contracted to teach in the winter session. Classes that don’t enroll at least nine students will be canceled because they would not break even.

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