Concord Academy’s Science Department has decided to shift their advanced science electives from year courses to semester ones. The department initiated this change with the hope to reflect the nature of CA’s program for upperclassmen overall, which is centered around semester electives.
In an interview with the Centipede, Amy Kumpel, head of the Science Department, stated that the department had been working on this shift for several years now. In fact, this shift has been ongoing for the past few years. In the span of the last couple decades, all physics and environmental science have already been “semesterised.” Next year, chemistry and biology, the other two disciplines of advanced science offered at CA, will reflect this structure as well, completing the total “semesterization” of the department for advanced courses.
The unique conditions of this year have further pushed along the need for this change. Kumpel stated, “Because of the STAC schedule this year, the teachers of those two courses [Kim, Andrea, and Will] were already thinking about the classes in a more unit-driven, compartmentalized way, and so making the move to semesterisation for next year made a lot of sense.”
When inquired about how this shift will affect the teacher experience, Kumpel continued, “I don’t think this will change the teacher experience much at all, as the teachers basically had a trial run of this this year by fitting the course into four STACs. Those four STACs are now becoming two semesters.”
Kumpel anticipates a positive impact on student experience with the shift to semester-long advanced science courses, as it would allow them greater flexibility in how they arrange their classes. “Instead of having to be ‘locked into’ a year-long course for science, students have some flexibility to mix-and-match their science courses: Advanced Bio with Advanced Environmental Science, Advanced Chemistry with Engineering, [or] Advanced Physics with Advanced Earth Science!” she explained. Furthermore, semester courses will still allow students to deep-dive into one discipline if they wish, as they are still able to sign up for two semesters in the same discipline, equivalent to a year course in the past.
Kumpel ended the interview by emphasizing her excitement for the science program next year. She said, “Our goal is to offer courses that appeal to the wide variety of interests of our students. […] We have diverse curricula that we have designed around both teacher passions and student interests that gives CA scholars an opportunity to explore five different areas of science.”
Indeed, the Science Department’s willingness to adapt their curriculum to student and teacher interests showcases CA’s strength in prioritizing the community’s needs within their education. Hopefully, these changes will achieve their desired results in improving the student and teacher academic experience.