Block scheduling is a type of academic scheduling in which class days are organized into fewer but longer class periods in order to make instructional activities flexible. Unlike traditional scheduling wherein a day is divided into six or seven 40-50 minute daily periods, block scheduling has longer period of time, usually at least 90 minutes.
There are currently hundreds of schools adopting this new scheduling method in the U.S., and their number is increasing each year. However, some are hesitant to follow suit. Should block scheduling replace traditional scheduling? Let us take a look at its pros and cons.
List of Pros of Block Scheduling
1. Allows Individualized Instruction
In this type of scheduling, students attend less class per day (about three to four classes) and teachers see fewer students too. This allows teachers to give more attention to each student, facilitating individual learning as a result.
2. Allows Cooperative Activities
Since more time is given for each class period, teachers can expose students to more cooperative learning activities. Group discussions, sharing, and the like are possible with the extra time given.
3. Makes Learning Less Stressful
Block scheduling benefits students in such a way that they are not bombarded with loads of information on various subjects every day. In addition, it allows students to go more in-depth on what they have learned. They will also have less homework or home studies to do since they are given the opportunity to learn much about their subjects inside the classroom than outside.
With extended class hours, teachers are given the flexibility to facilitate learning in various ways. It also allows them to cater to students with special or specific learning needs.
List of Cons of Block Scheduling
1. Learning Lacks Continuity
Some block schedules are designed in such a way that the teachers and students only see each other about four times a week. This creates discontinuity to learning and makes it hard for absent students to make up for the lessons they missed. Under block scheduling, missing just one class can left one behind.
2. Can Get Boring for Students
Psychologists claim that the typical student has only 10 to 15 minutes attention span. Depending on their learning motivation, enjoyment, mood and time of day, they can sustain a 40-50 minute class. This presents a challenge to teachers on how to keep their students’ interest on the lesson and keep boredom at bay.
There is no evidence yet to prove that this type of scheduling works. On the contrary, a study in Canada and another study in Texas concluded against block schedule.
Everyone has their own opinion about how the education system can be improved. After all, changes and reforms are necessary for innovation. Block scheduling offers that opportunity for innovation in the education system, and many schools in the U.S. have successfully adopted it in their institution. Of course, we should not only take a look at its upsides. Its downsides are also worth looking into. For one thing, it is not for everyone. But it could work effectively for both learners and educators if the right strategies are used in its implementation.