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Friday, April 12, 2024

Officials see potential in winter break courses

UW-Madison administrators said Monday the possibility of offering courses during winter break, which could happen as soon as next January, would give students more flexibility in their college educations.

A Sunday survey e-mailed to the student body under the subject heading “Classes during break?” gauged students’ potential reasons and motivations for taking classes between the university’s fall and spring semesters.

The prospect of one-to-three credit winter break classes is one way the university is hoping to adapt the school’s education to declining financial resources under Chancellor David Ward’s “Educational Innovation” initiative.

“Educational innovation is about trying to think as best we can about ways to find the capacity for the kind of education that we want,” said Professor Aaron Brower, also the associate vice-chancellor for General Educational Administration. “Part of that is using the whole calendar year in a better way.”

Roughly 1,800 students responded to the survey after the first day, according to Dean of Continuing Studies and Educational Innovation co-chair Jeff Russell. He also emphasized the benefits of offering additional classes.

“If this…can reduce the time to degree, that’s a plus,” he said. “If there [seems to be] sufficient demand, it does provide some scheduling flexibility to students and also utilizes some of our facilities during that period.”

More than student interest factors in to any eventual decision made on winter break classes by the university, Russell said.

“Some of the deans on campus are interested in trying to pilot something this January assuming that there’s [student] interest,” he said. “We have not reached out in a formal sense to the faculty, we haven’t broached it with housing…there’s a whole series of things.”

The university hopes to send out another e-mail and establish a student consensus from the responses by next week, Russell added.

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