Block scheduling is a concept in which the number of periods or classes taught during a school day are reduced and the length of the class periods are extended. Some school districts opt to adopt the semester course approach, while other school districts choose an AB schedule in which particular classes are held every other day. For school districts considering making the change to a block schedule from the standard seven or eight period day, there are several elements to consider. These are some effects that result from block scheduling.
INCREASED TEACHER TRAINING
In order for block scheduling to effectively be incorporated, it requires addition education for teachers. It requires teachers to become better at managing and planning time. Many teachers will need to readjust their approaches to the classroom, as it is impossible to simply take the curriculum and plunk two days worth of work into one day. The teacher will need to diversify teaching. As a result increased teacher education is necessary.
INCREASED TIME FOR SUPERVISED WORK
One of the benefits of this schedule is that it allows students to work on homework and projects under the supervision of the instructor. This allows students to attempt math problems or writing projects while the teacher is in the room to answer questions and give feedback to the students. This increased opportunity for tutelage by the teacher allows students to know whether or not they have a correct beginning on their assignments and can lead to less homework.
INCREASED STUDENT INTERACTION
Another effect of block scheduling is that it allows more time for student interaction in the classroom. Many careers that students will have in the future will involve working with other people. Block scheduling allows more time for group work, discussions, and projects that allow students to interact. Students also enjoy conversing with their peers and in value this part of their education.
LESS CURRICULUM COVERED
A negative aspect of block scheduling is that there will be less exposure to content than in a traditional seven to eight period day. There is no way for teachers to cover the same number of topics in a block schedule, generally because students can really only comprehend a certain amount of concepts per day. Therefore, several units that are normally taught in a traditional schedule will not be taught. Instead the units that are taught will be studied in more depth.
LESS TIME IN HALLWAYS
One strength of block scheduling is less time for students to pass in the hallways. These 2-5 minutes that students have between classes is wasted time that is multiplied in a seven to eight period days. By having block scheduling it reduces these wasted times and also limits the amount of unsupervised time in the hallway, which can lead to discipline issues.
There is some evidence that if a school is on the semester system that it can be difficult for some students to retain information when taking course work that involves pre-requisites. A student who takes Spanish I in the fall of one year and then doesn’t take Spanish II until the spring of the following year has more difficulty retaining the information. It may require more review taking the second course with a large span of time in between. Scheduling permitting, it can allow a student to take Spanish I in the fall and Spanish II in the spring which would not be a possibility in a seven period day.
According to Charlotte D. Gruber and Anthony J. Onwuegbuzie in High School Journal April/May 2001, a study of academic achievement was conducted between 115 students who received traditional instruction and 146 students who received 4X4 block instruction. The findings were that statistically there was no difference found for the writing portion. Significant differences were found in the areas of math, language arts, science and social studies. In those cases the traditional seven to eight period day resulted in higher test scores. This study would lead to the conclusion that one effect of block scheduling can be less academic achievement.
Block scheduling certainly has benefits as well as areas that may have negative effects on education. It is up to school districts to try to adopt the system that they feel will benefit their students the most.