J-term presents opportunities for student learning

Carly Davis

Apart from Augustana’s change to semesters, this winter’s J-term will be the first of its kind for faculty, staff and students. J-term’s four credit classes are designed to be a focused and opportunistic study of a certain discipline.
The new format provides students and faculty the chance to try different ways of learning that they may not have experimented with before the J-term.
The assistant professor of French, who has worked on developing the J-term for the last several years, Gillian Lederman, said, “I think faculty are very mindful of how they’re structuring the class.
“I think some people will take advantage of some of the things going on around the Quad Cities at the time.”
Members of the faculty, according to Lederman, have entertained the idea of taking day trips to create new learning opportunities for students.
 During three-hour class sessions, students can participate in lectures before turning right to discussion and classwork. 
With this winter being Augustana’s first J-term, professors are in charge of their own experiences with students. “It’s really a positive learning environment,” Lederman said.
The 14 off-campus programs taking place in the J-term will give students the opportunity to learn in a completely new environment. The students will be either focusing on a location’s culture or how a certain discipline interacts with the location. 
 Off-campus programs are led by faculty members who understand both the value of their course’s location. These faculty members will also use the opportunity to teach students about a discipline in a way that they would not be able to at Augustana.
“We engage with real people and real settings. We don’t have the ‘tourist experience,’” Dr. Mike Egan, who will be teaching an off-campus course in the 2021 J-term, said.  
 Some off-campus programs require a 2-credit prerequisite course in the fall semester in order to educate students on the culture of the area and ensure that they are prepared to interact with a new environment. 
The actual off-campus programs for these accompanying classes are 2-credit courses, while programs that did not require the course are worth the standard 4 credits. 
While full-time first-year students, students living or working on campus and some student-athletes are required to take a J-term class, the term is optional for other Augustana students. 
Lederman reported that over 80 percent of Augustana students will be taking a J-term course this year, between on-campus and off-campus courses and internships through the school. 
 “I think that transitioning to J-term will be a great opportunity for people to study abroad and take some interesting perspective classes that wouldn’t normally be offered during the rest of the year,” junior Ariane Omerza, who is participating in a J-term course this winter, said.
Student programming through the OSL and various campus groups will continue through J-term, and both facilities and campus dining services are prepared to support students just as they would in the fall and spring.