Academics / Opinion

Neurodiverse students aren’t benefiting from the current structure of 90-minute classes

Dana Hall introduced a new schedule this year, including new 90-minute periods. These classes were intended to benefit neurodiverse students, as these extended periods could be used for more projects and group work. Despite the good intentions for these periods, they aren’t being used in a way that benefits students. 

In most of my classes, 60-minute periods are used for lectures and individual assignments. The 90-minute periods should not be an extension of the same work for normal class. I believe that if 90-minute classes were split between individual and group work, rather than just an extra 30 minutes of normal class, the experience would be a lot more positive. For example, I suggest spending 40 minutes lecturing, building in a 5-minute break, and then using the last 45 minutes for labs, group work, games, discussions, etc.

For the first part of class, I am able to be productive in the same way I would in a normal period. However, I struggle to stay focused for extended periods of time, which is why having a 5- to 10-minute break in class is helpful. In some of my classes, breaks are built into the schedule, which is helpful as I focus on the task at hand rather than when I can take a break. However, in most of my classes, these breaks are only given after people ask numerous times. I find that not knowing when a break is coming is distracting and often leads me to lose focus ,which makes it hard for me to re-involve myself in class. After falling behind in class, I typically struggle to make up the notes and work later that night, which is frustrating.

For neurodiverse students, these classes that were meant to help are actually a disadvantage. I believe that if these periods were used as they were intended to, for collaborative assignments and projects, these periods would be more beneficial to neurodiverse and neurotypical students.

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