Thursday, July 2, 2009

Lecture and Lab scheduling

Hi again!

Today I learned something new, actually two things. The first is how Columbia schedules its science classes. As I was talking to a Columbia student who was taking General Chemistry Lab over the summer, I found out that Columbia U doesn't normally schedule the lecture and lab concurrently. So a student would take a science class lecture one semester and then the lab the next semester. The lab would normally be an overview of everything learned in lecture but would not be directly correlated to any one thing. This is just completely different from what I've known before because I know for UC Berkeley, there is one lecture and then ten lab classes to choose from. The lecture and lab are scheduled concurrently and the lab would tie into the lecture. Then this is completely different from Contra Costa Community College that has lab directly after lecture. This really has me thinking a lot more about how class schedules at different colleges are structured because if classes a structured in a way that doesn't suit the way I learn, I'm not going to enjoy it. I also never thought that a science class could be scheduled this way. But as this Columbia student said to me, "It works!"

The second observation I made is also surprising. After talking to my suite mates, I feel really isolated by being an American. As I've said before, the majority of my suite mates are international students and so earlier today, they were talking about the different diplomas that their high school offered. Everybody's school offered an American diploma along with their country's diploma. Most of their schools also offered International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. I never heard of IB programs until I came to Columbia and met all these international students. It feels like America is out of the loop because there are all these different countries doing American standardized tests like the SAT and AP but we don't know anything at all about education in countries outside the U.S.

On a completely unrelated note, while on our cruise around New York, we passed by the Watchtower Buildings in New York City. The headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses.



Don Gosney said...


Just because they do things differently overseas doesn’t necessarily make what we’re doing wrong.

One of the reasons why they offer Americanized diplomas is because so many of their students want to come to the US to go to college and they need a universally accepted diploma that acceptance officers can use to compare with the American applicants.

The same goes for the SAT and AP exams,

Very few American HS students venture outside of the US to study. They may try it after they’ve been at an American college for a couple of years but even then most of the study abroad classes are at foreign schools with close ties to the US schools and the classes are set up so credits can be shared.

The IB program is a good system used to universalize programs in different countries so when a student applies to a university the playing field is leveled. This program works equally well for the schools as it does for the students.

Because the US already has some pretty good standardization systems set up and the desire for US students to apply to foreign colleges is minimal, the IB program isn’t even offered in the US.

When your roomies talk about these programs I hope you don’t start feeling inferior. What the US offers sis still pretty good by most standards across the globe. And don’t forget that if the schools in their home country were all that great, why did they leave their country to attend school here?

The point here, Julie, is that’s there often two sides to every story.

Julie Liang said...

Hi Don!

In response to your comments, it was more surprising that I never knew that high schools in other countries offered an "American" diploma. I felt more out of the loop culturally because I don't know very much about the lifestyles of other countries outside the U.S. instead of feeling out of the loop because we don't offer other types of diplomas.


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