Winter storm Stella’s arrival in Philadelphia last Tuesday prompted the cancellation of classes and excitement for many Penn students. But the missed class time also prompted significant disruption to course proceedings.
Professors had to make changes to their classroom plans, since the loss of a day of classes reduced time to teach course content.
Approaches to making up lost time varied greatly from class to class, causing students to face a wide array of schedule adjustments.
Wharton freshman Samantha Freeman missed her BEPP 250 class on the day off. She usually has the class — Introduction to Managerial Economics — on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“Professor [Ulrich] Doraszelski scheduled a makeup class for the next day, so on Wednesday,” she said. “And we could go to that and he would actually go through the lecture slides.”
According to Freeman, this was a different approach than those taken by her other professors.
“I thought it was really nice that he gave us that option to actually go there and learn the material in person and not have to just rely on the slides,” she said. “Basically all of my other professors just said, ‘Look through the slides in your free time.’”
Freeman appreciated the accommodation, but unfortunately could not attend the makeup lecture.
College junior Catherine Oksas missed two classes due to the snowstorm. Each class took a different approach to syllabus adjustments.
“I have biochem, which is normally lecture-based, and for that one everything was kind of just pushed back,” Oksas said. This was a stark contrast from her creative writing class, which Oksas described as a much smaller and more intimate learning environment.
“My creative writing class is more discussion-based,” she said. “We usually talk about some assigned pieces and have a small writing exercise in class. And so our professor sent us an email that was two discussion questions for pieces we were supposed to have read of about 200 words each, and then a 300-ish word little fiction writing exercise to make up for the class.”
The assignment didn’t take Oksas too long, but she said she wished she could have seen what other people in the class wrote, since normally in class she gets to hear the thoughts of her classmates. However, she thought it was a fair way to deal with the missed class, especially since it would have been very difficult for the professor to adjust Thursday’s class plan.
“On Thursday we were workshopping [critiquing classmates’ writing], and that was something that she didn’t want to have to squeeze in,” Oksas said.
College senior Marielle Trubowitsch missed a three-hour science and technology seminar that meets once a week. Because so much class time was missed, professor Dong-Won Kim adjusted the lectures.
“It was extra weird since we didn’t have class during spring break or this week, so it just seems like a very long time to not have class,” Trubowitsch said. “So he just shifted the lecture that he would have had last week to this week and then … combined two of the readings.”
Trubowitsch also missed a health care management class. Professor Jeffrey Silber took a similar approach to Kim, distilling two lectures into one while assigning readings as planned.
“None of the professors took anything out, they just combined things differently,” she said. “So in lecture we’ll cover things a little bit less, but we’ll still do the same amount of reading.”