The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Posted by Seeking Solace |

I completed my lecture on Product's Liability in 50 minutes. My class runs 1 hour 25 minutes. Since I was finished and the students seemed to grasp the concepts, I ended the class.

But, I feel a little guilty about ending class that early. I mean, usually I teach class until the scheduled end or maybe with 10-15 minutes remaining. But, there are times when a lecture goes faster than I anticipated, or the students are extra smart and wearing their thinking caps on that particular day.

I don't like to cram a bunch of information down students' throats, particularly in the my law class. There is a significant amount of information in each of the chapters that I must cover in the class. So, I try to keep one chapter per class. Otherwise, it is overkill.

I try to plan my lectures so that if things go too fast, I have other things to do. But at the same time, I don't want to flood them with "busy work". I mean, they are not little kids.

Also, I am not used to teaching on a Tuesday-Thursday schedule where the classes run longer. At my old college, the classes were either Monday-Wednesday or Tuesday-Thursday for one hour and 15 minutes. So, my lectures are geared toward that bench mark. It's not a problem when I teach my MWF classes, but I have trouble making up the extra time on my TR schedule.

I often worry that I am going to catch hell for letting students leave early. At my last school, the dean would patrol the halls to ensure that faculty would not let students out early, unless there was an exam. Seems kinda childish, but there is the school of thought that the students are paying for 1 hour 25 minutes, so they should be in class for that amount of time.

What's your take on this? Do you lecture until the very second class ends? Do you every finish early and let the students go? Do you base your time on whether or not your students "get it"?

Should I feel guilty?


BrightStar said...

I'm all about the group work. It really and truly is not "busy" work if the task is challenging and aligned with your goals for the course. Students get more out of doing than out of listening, right?

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

It is hard to get the hang of a change in class length... I've been teaching the 75 minute class so long that I'd have a hard time with 50...

Often my night class covers material more quickly than my day class -- because we only do one set of announcements and we don't have to review (and, they are better students... hmm). Likewise, my 7:45 Logic class is slow to get started and my 12:45 class is wide awake, so they tend to get ahead.

I think that if you plan in good faith for a full class period and they really get it, letting them go early is a recognition that their time is valuable and you won't waste it... just like you woudn't tolerate their wasting your time.

I do tend to have a couple of ways to make the class meetings more effective..... and that are optional, so they don't have to be done if we get into the detials. Sometimes I'll have them do a debate on the topic discussed -- other times I'll give them a preview of the next topic so that their homework has some context. The former is just a fun exercise and the latter seems to really help.

DancingFish said...

I usually teach up till the last second and try my hardest not to go over my 50 minutes. There have been a few days when I didn't expect to have a long lecture and the students seem to always ask just enough questions (or look confused enough to make me repeat myself) to get us within 5 minutes of our full time.

Usually my major professor is sitting in on my classes and that makes me feel like I must use the whole time. The only reason I have specifically planned on short lectures is to stay on track with the schedule from the syllabus.

dr four eyes said...

I usually use up the whole class time, but I don't see any problem with letting students out early now and then, if we've done everything we need to do. I remember how nice it was to get out early now and then when I was in college, even in classes that I liked, so I don't feel guilty when we do end early once in a great while.

What does bother me greatly is hearing about colleagues who walk in, say they don't feel like teaching, ask the students if they feel like having class that day, and then just dismissing class. Apparently, I have a colleague who does this on a regular basis. Those students are certainly getting ripped off--not your students who had a good class and a few free minute to grab lunch with friends or run errands or whatever.

Dr. Brazen Hussy said...

When I was adjuncting, I ended class when I was done. That was often before the actual end of class. I would always ask students if they wanted to leave early or if they'd rather stay and "get their money's worth." Never did they opt to stay.

I don't know that I would do this as an assistant professor, but as an adjunct, I had a little bit of a bad attitude about what I was being paid, so I never felt guilty. And the other faculty never seemed to care; they were just glad that they didn't have to teach Intro.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Nah, don't feel guilty. dr four eyes's colleague, that's someone who should feel guilty. I had a colleague who was regularly 20 mins. or so late to class, and when called on it said, "But I'm only human!"- that person should feel guilty too. I think finishing when you're done is a good thing, unless you find yourself finishing in 50 minutes every day. That might be a problem! But once in a while is fine - you and the students can probably both use the break.

Weezy said...

no guilt here. Wed. for example. I was collecting papers (I knew they were up all night writing) AND it was the day before break. Worked up an assignment with questions with reading and PBS-- Hamilton and the National bank. Told them to go to the library and work on it. Email assignment by midnight. No, I didn't lecture. But what I did do was give those who aren't verbal a chance to show that they have much to say, and let them pull their quiz grade up.

You covered the stuff you needed to so no worries!