No Roster, No Problem

Morgan Harding, Print Editor

Junior education major Marisa Ferenchick was concerned when she learned that Language Arts Methods, a course she needed to graduate with an education degree, did not roster.  Only three people signed up for the course – so students were automatically transferred to a directed study.

Ferenchick said she discovered benefits to the switch.  She was able to choose times to meet privately with her professor instead of meeting in a small group. While she has to complete most of her classwork alone, she said she enjoys the ability to work at her own pace.

Officials say they determine acceptable class enrollment size on a case-by-case basis, and if they feel too few students sign register for any class, they often allow students to take courses as  directed or independent studies. There are 15 directed studies on the master schedule for the spring 2013 semester.

According to Registrar Joe Redington, directed studies are most often used to help ensure students can complete degree requirements in a timely fashion, particularly in cases in which students may not have taken courses in the proper sequence or there are scheduling conflicts with other required courses. Directed study courses have a two-fold benefit:  They are often taught by the professor who would have taught the class if it had rostered, and they allow students to have one-on-one guided experiences and get the credits they need.

“Many institutions do not provide this option to students who must wait to take courses until they are offered again, so the fact that Misericordia provides this option is a tremendous benefit to students in completing their studies without taking on extra time or cost,” said Redington.

But Ferenchick believes that a directed study is not for everyone. “I think it depends on if you are more of a group learner or more of an independent learner. I’ve always been fine doing things on my own so this is perfect for me, but if you need group structure this kind of class may be problematic,” she said.

An independent study course is another more customized option for students.  They allow students to explore advanced study of topics beyond the scope of the existing curriculum alongside faculty who have special knowledge in those academic areas, according to Redington.

Independent studies are courses typically offered in the course catalog but created by students and their professors. There are five independent studies on the master schedule for spring 2013. These courses are offered for a variety of reasons. Brittany Lovette, junior communications major, chose to enroll in an independent study with Dan Kimbrough, assistant professor of communications, because she needed another communications elective and there was not one that catered to her unique interest – video editing. The class she created with Kimbrough will teach her how to use Avid, a type of professional video editing software.  This will leave her with knowledge of three video editing systems and give her a leg up on the  job search.

“I love that I get to film athletic events on campus for WBRE TV, learn this new program and make myself real-world connections in the media. In a traditional class, it’s hard to learn video editing because you are one of many, but in an independent study I can make it what I want and truly partner with Dan to make the most of my education,” Lovette said.

Lovette hopes to take another independent study course before her graduation in May 2014. “There are so many different ways that you can edit, and I would love to have the opportunity to learn more special effects. All these skills will make it easier for me to get a job upon graduation and in the end, that’s what is really important,” she said.

She credits communication with her adviser for developing the course to meets her unique interests.  If she had not expressed her interest in advanced video editing, she would have never been able to create her own course, she said.

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