Primary Research Practice: Friday Classes
Two years ago, the University of Denver added Friday classes in an effort to improve their image and stimulate educational growth in their students. When talking, Jake, Madi, and I agreed that none of this has been accomplished. So, despite the addition of Friday classes, does DU still remain a ghost town on these day?
In order to conduct our research, we knew that we were going to have to look at the target audience: DU students. We began with observations to reassure our hypothesis. On Thursday and Friday of last week, we observed the area in front of Sturm Hall. Many classes are taught in Sturm and it’s a popular place for tabling which attracts students. This is why we believed this area would act as a great sample of DU. We observed two different time frames (9:50-10:05 and 11:50-12:05) on each day to provide the best representation. These time frames are when classes switch causing the most people to walk by our observation area.
We wanted to conduct an interview with a DU student that often faces scheduling issues with Friday classes. For this reason, the person we chose was Hadley Michaels. She is a professional skier and full time student, so one can easily see where problems might arise. We wanted to ask her questions pertaining her attendance on Fridays and any conflicts she faces.
Our survey was a great way to collect information from people with different majors, schedules, and social lives. To do this, we utilized surveymonkey.com because it’s an effective way to survey through technology and remain anonymous. One piece of information we wanted to get out of the survey was the common reason for skipping. Is it due to kids going out on Thursday nights? Is is due to pure laziness? Also, we wanted to know if people are more likely to skip Friday class than any other day of the week. The last question we wanted to ask was opinion-based asking whether students would rather have more hours of class each day, but only for 4 days of the week or have less hours of class each day spread over 5 days of the week?
After conducting primary research, our survey, observations, and interview provided impressive results. Through our survey we found that most students will miss Friday classes due to their consumption of alcohol. Hangovers were the main reason why people missed their classes on Fridays. With 92.31% of people responding “too hungover,” it is prevalent that alcohol has a very high effect on students attending class on Fridays. Also attributing to this finding, Hadley Michaels commented on the fact that alcohol contributes to her missing classes when she said, ”I also like going out on Thursday nights which makes it more difficult to make it to Friday classes. ”
Another reason our survey participants were missing class on Fridays was because they were “too lazy”. 53.85% of the people who participated in the poll chose this answer, showing friday classes were not a strong priority for them. In addition, 100% of our students in our survey said they are more likely to miss a class just because it is on Friday.m
As we saw when observing Driscoll Green, there was much more student activity on Thursdays than on Friday. On Thursday, we observed upward of 500 students attending classes in Sturm and only 80 to 100 students attending classes in Sturm on Friday. Our survey showed that 86.67% of students would rather have more hours of class 4 days a week rather than the 13.3% who prefer having less hours of class each day spread over 5 days a week. Both of statistics showing that a vast majority of DU students would prefer not to have a class on Friday.
We noted some connections we made between our research and results. One of the main reasons Denver eliminated Friday classes was to “help curb student alcohol abuse, which the letter, dated May 7, states has lead to increased incidents of sexual assault,” according to the Denver Clarion. However, our survey shockingly proved that eliminating Friday classes didn’t actually solve the drinking problem with 92.31% of kids reporting they were too hungover for class. The problem grew when we discovered that 84.62% of students have missed at least one friday class this year. Maybe implementing Friday classes makes the school look better as a whole, but it clearly isn’t helping students.
Friday classes even have hindered student athletes like Hadley Michaels who stated, “Friday classes often interfere with my skiing competition schedule as well.” She went on to inform us that the school doesn’t even do anything to accommodate her when she stated, “For the most part they do not. It is really difficult for me to find the perfect schedule that doesn’t interfere with my professional skiing. Especially since I am an art major and there are less classes with even less time options.” This is clearly an issue because students on participating sports teams here at Denver not only receive help with their scheduling, but they also get to register early. So it makes sense that we found that nearly 50% of students have missed class on Friday for skiing, snowboarding, or outdoor activities.
So why are we implementing Friday classes if so many people are absent for them? A newsletter that all DU professors received two years earlier from Provost Gregg Kvistad regarding the implementation of Friday classes starting winter quarter of the 2014-15 academic year stated that students not having class on Friday roots to “a significant level of intellectual disengagement among our students for three of the seven days of the week and, in turn, a weakening of the University’s academic culture.” Well, congratulations! You went from zero students attending class on Fridays to 80 hungover students lazily crawling to classes that are half-empty when they arrive. Clearly not comparable to the nearly 500 students that were seen on a Thursday afternoon.
Although the school of Denver implemented Friday classes to restrict drinking and show visiting donors our school is not filled with “no signs of life, let alone a vibrant and intense academic community with people coming and going from classes, lectures or the myriad other activities we engage in during the rest of the week,” our research has proved the inverse. Thank you.