Whether it be the intense workload or more class information given in one day, there are different factors that could affect how a student performs in a summer course.
One’s learning efficiency could alter when having to deal with the transition into summer and the use of a different study routine.
Brandi Schreiber, program director of the Texas Tech TECHniques Center, said students taking summer courses will face similar obstacles to students taking courses during the fall or spring semesters.
“We can’t characterize our summer students as being any different from our fall or spring students,” she said. “Summer students are simply students that have made a decision to take summer classes for one reason or another.”
Despite similarities in difficulty, most students who take summer courses are aware of the specific time management challenges and the need for more discipline to complete the coursework, Schreiber said. Because there is more work that needs to be completed in a short time span and the need to alter one’s daily routine, she said a student taking a summer class can face different challenges.
“I just see maybe a different kind of stress,” Schreiber said. “You got to get so much done each week. It’s practically a month of regular class. There’s a lot you have to accomplish in a short amount of time.”
For a typical college student taking a few classes in summer school, Schreiber said the summer term can be a time where students spend more time on classes and learn more efficiently.
“Your attention is already naturally focused on less,” she said. “So, you have this space and the time typically in the summer to focus more on those particular courses.”
Regardless of the amount of time one has to complete their summer classes, one may need to make an effort to alter their schedule in order to efficiently learn and pass the course.
When one uses their time well, Schreiber said he or she can improve their learning. She said one needs to get started on their work soon, have a system in place and make time for breaks and fun since summer courses can be monotonous.
“There is less time for error,” she said. “You got to be organized from the very beginning, you got to jump right into the material pretty quickly with summer school.”
In addition to the workload and time requirements, the types of courses may have an impact on how effectively a student learns.
Valerie Paton, professor in Higher Education at the Tech College of Education, said summer students learn differently if they are sitting in a lecture with the professor compared to taking a course online.
“One of the most important factors in online learning is called online self-regulation,” she said. “What we find is that students at different levels of their educational journey have different levels of self-regulation in learning.”
Higher levels of self-regulation are needed for online courses, Paton said. For students with better self-regulation skills, she said success and better learning efficiency in the course are more likely to occur.
“Summer school adds another twist to this whole dynamic because it’s a shorter, more intensive session, which means that the work deadlines come at a much faster pace,” she said. “I think sometimes people think that online learning is easier. In fact, the research shows that it is much more taxing to the student and much more demanding.”
Even though they can learn at their own pace, students need to be highly skilled in self-regulation to keep up with the pace and work requirements of an online course during the summer, Paton said.
During the summer when the workload of an online or face-to-face class can be more intensive and come at a faster rate, Paton said people’s learning efficiency can differ.
“There’s research that shows that adults tend to learn in intensive, focused courses better than over a longer period of time,” Paton said.
Regardless of some learning more efficiently during the summer, Paton said a student still needs to complete assignments sooner because of the fast-approaching deadlines of a summer class.
To ensure one is learning effectively during his or her summer course, a variety of study and time-management techniques may be utilized.
Amani Zaier, assistant professor of practice in the Teacher Education Program in the College of Education, said how a student approaches a class is important.
“As teachers or any instructor, we always like to emphasize the techniques in how to be a self-efficacious or self-invigorated learner,” she said. “What are the techniques undergrads, graduate students or any type of learner needs to follow to be successful and have positive learning experiences?”
Whether it be knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses or developing a set schedule to follow each day, Zaier said students need to understand what is expected of them in the summer classes they are taking.
“Be prepared for the class participation, the class activities, the class discussions,” Zaier said. “That is all part of setting a goal for yourself.”
Always attending class, coming to class prepared and constantly reviewing study material all are methods Zaier said a student should utilize to be successful and get the most out of the course.
“Keep some time to entertain yourself and have fun,” she said. “This could be done even when you’re studying.”
Despite the reasons why a student enrolled for a summer course, there are a variety of factors one may consider to understand if they learn effectively during the summer term.
Because of the differences in learning during the summer versus the fall or spring semesters, a student may need to adjust how they approach the course.
“You have to find techniques. How can you catch up? How can you increase your scores?” Zaier said. “It’s about managing your progress and being on track.”