Students Welcome Focusing on One Course during Intensives

During UPrep's three-week-long intensive period, students actively engage in the same course all day, every day.

  • Intensives
Ken Jaffe, Assistant Head of School and Director of Upper School

Active engagement. There are many benefits to the format of our intensive classes, but allowing students to experience sustained active engagement is one of the most prominent. It’s not that students don’t find classes in our traditional semester schedule engaging; they do. But our traditional semester class schedule necessitates our students thinking about math and science in the morning and English and science in the afternoon. Then there’s required homework in all four classes that evening and a different combination of classes the next day; hard work that requires students to do their fair share of mental gymnastics.

As I dropped in and out of intensive classes last week, it was clear that students were benefiting from the opportunity to devote all of their mental energy to one subject. Students didn’t have to rush through their dissection of crayfish in the Marine Biology course because class was ending soon, but instead could take their time with the dissection with their classmates and teacher as collaborative partners. Our statistics students could apply the theory they learned in the morning on real data they collected that afternoon, and our painting students could start and restart projects in the same day without having to worry about cleaning themselves and the room up not long after grasping a brush.

Intensives, in my view, are not sustainable as a model for more than the three week stretch that we devote to them twice a year. But observing our students actively engage in the same course all day, every day, really reinforces the benefits of the model. If you talk to students, some will tell you how refreshing it is to be able to focus all of their time and energy on subject matter they find very compelling. Other students will tell you how nice it is to be able to focus all of their time and energy on subject matter that would be even more challenging if they weren’t able to focus exclusively on one course. It’s a win/win.

I’m optimistic that you are seeing and hearing some of the same positive feedback from your student(s) about intensives that I’m observing at school. You can also check out our UPrep Instagram account for photos and videos that capture intensives in action. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out share what you’re learning at home. 


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