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The Quadmester Model: An Innovative Learning Experience or a Barrier to Academic Success?

By Reschelle Peetam and Thirandie Semage

Online learning has been a whole new experience for most students here at BR, especially since the standard four-subject semesters have been replaced with four quad-semesters consisting of two subjects each.

As a result, the quadmester model has garnered many mixed reactions from students of all grade levels, with some who are finding it beneficial and others who are dissatisfied with this new approach to learning.

Which Model do Students Prefer in Terms of How the Semester is Structured?

The responses poured in, the data collected, and the results revealed a close tie between the quadmester model and a regular four course semester. With 50% of students picking the four course model, this left 42.9% preferring the model, while 7.1% were experiencing a high school semester for the first time.

Have Student’s Stress Increased from when they had Four Subjects in a Semester?

One of the most common remarks among high school students is the burn out they are experiencing. This burnout is reflected in the graph, with 46.4% reporting increased stress levels since the introduction of the quadmester model.

On a Scale of 1-10, How Well are Students Handling their Subjects?

One of the survey questions asked students to rate their stress levels from 1 to 10, with 1 being “Not Stressed at all” and 10 being “Very Stressed”. A glance at the stress level graph above shows that a majority of students are facing higher levels of stress, with many of their responses being in the 7-10 section.

A High School Transition like No Other: Thoughts from the Grade 9s!

Our responses from the grade 9s consist of a majority vouching for the quadmester model, with grade 9 students sharing that their stress levels are low, and that their courses are going well. However certain responses shared that their workload was quite heavy.

Grade 9 student Danica Caratao shared her thoughts on the subject saying, “Though it's only my first semester here at BR, I can assume that with the semesters compressed into a shorter span of time, the workload is nearly double what it would be normally”.

Grade 10: To Stress or not To Stress?

Out of the few responses we received from grade 10 students, it appears that their stress levels have increased exponentially since the beginning of the quadmester model.

One student indicated that she prefers the four subject semester over the quadmester model, the main reason being that she has math this semester. In general, it seems that students with math and science courses have the same response, as it is difficult to absorb several condensed concepts over a two month period.

The Effects of the Quadmester Model on Grade 11 Lives:

The results for grade 11s were quite varied, with 66% favouring the quadmester model while 33% chose the regular 4 course semester as their preferred option.

In favour of the quadmester model, a grade 11 student shared, “Since we have only two subjects instead of four at a time this year, it is easier to focus on those subjects individually and put more effort into them” which was one of the main reasons students preferred the quadmester model.

However, many opposing opinions contained a recurring answer about science and mathematical courses being harder to grasp. This is reflected in one such comment from a grade 11 student, “Science courses require time to understand concepts so it is really hard when we are starting a new unit every week/other week.”

Is this preparation for University? The Grade 12s Tell All!

In contrast to the grade 9 responses, all grade 12 student responses conveyed their preference for the four subject semester over the current quadmester model. However, they all indicated that they are doing well in terms of managing their subjects, despite increased stress levels.

Grade 12 student, Jana, compares the quadmester model to a regular semester by expressing that she prefers the variety of work provided from having four subjects a day, as opposed to working through multiple hours of the same two subjects, which can be mentally draining.

The Verdict?

The quadmester model seems to work just fine for courses that have an easier workload or consist of easier-to-understand concepts. However courses that are more academically demanding are made much more difficult due to the compact learning time and frequent testing. While opinions are varied among grade nine, ten and eleven, grade twelves have shown a consistent preference for the regular four course semester.

The Tips and Tricks to make your Quadmester Easier:

If you are struggling with the quadmester model, here are a few tried and tested strategies from Bishop Reding students.

  1. Having a schedule/checklist so that you know when important tests dates will take place.

  2. As comfortable and convenient as they are, changing out of your pajamas and getting ready for the day will both motivate you and improve your mood!

  3. When feeling confused about a topic, get help as soon as possible because courses are moving fast! Student services and the Virtual Academic Study Hall are great resources to answer any questions you may have or provide useful resources.

  4. Have a study partner who you can reach out to. Some benefits include clarifying assignment criteria, reminding each other of upcoming due dates, and studying difficult concepts together. Two brains are better than one!

  5. Try to fit in a few 30 minute breaks into your day where you can do something you enjoy eg. reading, playing a sport, watching an episode of your favourite show, crafting, spending time with friends and family.

  6. Finally, a grade 12 student, Jana, suggested taking advantage of online resources when you are struggling to grasp a concept. In particular, she suggested watching online videos from sources such as Khan Academy and Organic Chem Tutor at a speed of 1.5 to save time.

Student Suggestions Regarding the Quadmester Model

Students at BR have also suggested their thoughts on the resources and changes they would like to see in terms of the quadmester model at Bishop Reding.

One suggestion we received was from grade 11 student Aqsa Rehman, regarding a change to the school schedule by having a more equal allocation of time for each course during the day. Her suggestion reflects the opinions of students who are finding that multiple lessons of homework are assigned because of the extended morning classes.

Another note-worthy suggestion was having an optional workshop that gives students resources and strategies to be successful in the quadmester model. As this grade 11 student said, “Many students have no idea how to complete a course in two months and do not know how to go about it”.

Whether you are finding this quadmester model an innovative learning experience, or you're wishing hard for the return of a four-course semester, it’s important to remember that adaptability to either model is an important skill for academic success.

We hope this article gave you some insight about the overall student consensus on the quadmester model–good luck with your courses BR!

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