The College Modular Scheduling Program of Saint Mary's University; an Evaluation of a Curricular Innovation

Article excerpt

TWO years ago in this same column, I wrote about the Modular Scheduling Program (MSP) of Saint Marys University in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya. A unique curricular innovation, the MSP was first implemented in Saint Marys University in school year 2002-2003 and since then, has been part of the educational system of the institution. It has been applied to all degree courses at the undergraduate level as well as to some programs in the graduate school.

In the modular scheduling program a semester of 18 weeks is divided into 3 terms, with each term comprising 31 class days. In each term, students are allowed to take at most only 3 subjects or a total of 9 units per term. If a student carries a regular 24-unit load (or 8 subjects), he/she can spread the load into 3 subjects in the first term, 3 subjects in the 2nd term, and 2 subjects in the third term. Or she can divide the load into a combination of 2 subjects in the first term, 3 subjects in the second term, and 3 subjects in the third term. Students or faculty members carrying a lesser load of 18 units have better chances of having a whole term (31 days) free, enabling them to do some other work or to take a respite from work. As a matter of fact, a number of faculty members arrange their schedules in a way that they would have one term free for them to attend to very pressing matters, to finish their theses, or, for some, to teach as visiting professors in some local or foreign colleges or universities.

In this program, the students attend the same class daily for 31 class days and take the final exams after the end of the 31 days or term. A regular 3-unit subject is allotted one hour and 45 minutes (1 unit is equivalent to 35-minute contact time). Subjects with bigger number of units (more than 4 units) and those with laboratory units are taken in two or three terms depending on the requirements and demands of the subjects. Students enroll at the beginning of the school year, but instead of having their subjects divided into the traditional MWF/TThS mode, subjects are divided into the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd term mode. Teachers loading follows the pattern as the students.

An institutional evaluation of the modular program was done in June 2004 two years after the programs first implementation in SY 2002-2003. Tasked for this purpose was the universitys research center, which floated the formative evaluation questionnaire, also called the Modular Scheduling Evaluation Inventory (MSEI), to a large sample of students, faculty and staff. This was followed by focus group discussions with representative samples of the aforementioned three groups in attendance.

After several months of gathering, analyzing and interpreting the voluminous data gathered, a final report has been made. The result in summary form of the formal institutional formative evaluation of the modular scheduling program of Saint Marys University is presented below:

The evaluative study reveals that incremental and positive changes have been noted in the performance of students, faculty and staff along the institutional indicators/goals of creativity, competence and commitment during the modular program implementation years. This signifies that the students, faculty and staff have performed relatively better during the modular program years than during their pre-modular years. Among the positive changes noted are the following: 1. Increase in the general percentage average of students, 2. Decrease in the dropout rate of students, 3. Decrease in the number of absences of students, faculty and staff, 4. Increase in the number of students frequenting the library, 5. Increase in the number of academic scholars, 6. Increase in the evaluation average point of faculty and staff.

As to the extent of effectiveness of the modular scheduling program in attaining the universitys goals as perceived by the respondents, the study shows that the modular program is moderately effective in attaining the three institutional goals. …