Should public universities reduce class duration for more efficiency?
“I have always been attentive in classes for as long as I can remember. Even in my school life, when everyone used to goof around, I had no problem concentrating on classes, which was an ability I took a lot of pride in,” Salman Siddique Prottoy, a third-year student of Economics at the University of Dhaka, told the writer.
But things have become quite different after entering university. The average length of classes is more than an hour.
“Even though I can keep absolute concentration for about 45 minutes or so, I have to force myself to be attentive in the remaining time, which I never had to face earlier in school or college as the duration of classes was at best 45 minutes," he added.
In Bangladesh, most universities have at least one hour as the estimated time of classes. After the coronavirus pandemic, the number of hours has increased in public universities to compensate for the loss of academic years.
Mahtab Jamil Niloy, a fourth-year student at the Department of International Relations at Bangladesh University of Professionals, said in this regard, "In BUP, we have classes for 1.5 hours. Now the classes are tiring. But on top of that, the teachers taking classes have 3–4 classes daily; and they naturally lack the same energy and interest in the later classes.”
Niloy’s words emphasize the fact that longer classes aren’t doing anything good for either party. Both students and teachers would be more energetic and efficient with a smaller duration.
But there is also another side of the story. Prince Mahmud, a student at the University of Dhaka, reinstated the importance of classes with longer hours. According to him, it's impossible to cover up the pandemic loss if the classes are curtailed.
In his opinion, students need to make some extra effort to get through class hours that are longer than usual, as otherwise, session jams are inevitable for public universities.
According to much different research, human brains can concentrate for 5 to 6 hours a day at most, and when it comes to concentration at a stretch, the optimal amount is 90 minutes.
Most people need a break of at least 15 minutes to function properly. While university classes, in the most extreme cases, go up to 80 minutes, for many students, the last 20 minutes seem to be the time when they eagerly wait for the classes to end rather than focusing on the lesson imparted.
However, in the changing realities of the world, many have accepted the length of the classes as the norm. Without them, neither would the academic curriculum of public universities be finished within the allotted time, nor would the students be able to graduate on time. But, many have called for recesses in between the classes.
As per Prince Mahmud, a break of 15 minutes in the middle of class helps the students to concentrate properly later on, as well as, rejuvenates them.
“We can go out and have a short break and drink tea or coffee if we are given a break of 15 minutes in between the classes. This not only helps us gain a bit of spirit but also will is instrumental in making us understand the contents of the classes later on," explained Prince.
Public university students are going through a post-coronavirus hangover; for many of them, longer classes can be a source of additional stress. Authorities should choose a solution that would be beneficial and efficient for all the parties involved.