Instead of having hour-long periods for a class or scheduling appointments based on specific timeframes, block scheduling creates a system where longer periods of time are allowed for meetings or teaching. This might include an alternate day schedule where every other day interactions occur, semester or trimester plans, or calendars that allow for a specific number of meetings per day and no additions.
These modified schedules have certain advantages and disadvantages that must be considered if changing from a traditional schedule. Here are some of the primary points to consider as this decision is made.
What Are the Pros of Block Scheduling?
1. There are fewer interactions during the day.
Fewer social interactions create lower levels of stress for all those involved. This also means there is more time available to everyone for a more personal approach. Relationships can be built, further enhancing the educational and work relationships.
2. It becomes easier to complete complicated tasks.
Shorter periods of time require multiple days to complete complex projects. This often results in a lower quality outcome because information retention from day-to-day can be spotty. With more time allowed during the day for each project or class, there is a greater chance of completing each opportunity as it comes instead of forcing it to wait. Even if there are distractions in place, there is enough time to come back to the project.
3. There is more time to ask questions.
Fast scheduling often creates a lot of questions that remain unanswered. This means workers and students are forced to guess at what certain solutions should be and guessing is never going to replace facts when it comes to effectiveness. With more time allowed because of block scheduling, there are more chances to answer questions and that helps to complete the learning circle. There isn’t as much of a need to rush the learning process.
4. People don’t feel like they are prisoners to their schedule.
One of the biggest stress factors that people have today happens when they are running late for class or on a work deadline. When there is block scheduling involved, people are able to focus upon one project at a time for a greater amount of time so that they can feel like they aren’t hurried to check off the next thing on their daily to-do list. The end result is a higher quality of work.
What Are the Cons of Block Scheduling?
1. There is often a lack of continuity to a schedule.
Because there are fewer social interactions that occur over the course of a week, everyone involved with block scheduling can feel disconnected to everyone else who is around them. There is a lack of continuity that occurs because instead of their being a daily routine that is followed, there is a weekly routine that is followed and that isn’t always as beneficial.
2. Missing a day for any reason can become extremely problematic.
If a student or worker misses a day of productivity for any reason, then they’re doing more than just missing one day. They’re effectively missing 2-3 days of work instead because there is a lack of repetition within the schedule. This can make it very hard to get caught up because the workload is compacted every day, maximizing local resources.
3. Fast learning and working doesn’t always equate to quality.
If an year-long project or class is condensed into just 3 months, there must be a certain level of speed associated with the learning curve. In the real world, speed often comes at the expense of quality. This means that block scheduling can actually cost learning opportunities because people aren’t remembering the tasks or lessons that must be completed.
4. Difficult projects are still difficult to fit into the time that is given through block scheduling.
Complicated theories or a difficult project for work require a certain amount of time to complete. There’s just no getting around that fact. This means that not only does the work still not get done, but other classes or projects are cast aside for the extended block schedule that was implemented. People can get very far behind very quickly if their timing is not carefully managed.
The pros and cons of block scheduling show that the practice can be effective, but not every situation actually benefits from this type of time management. By examining local needs, the correct decision can be made as to whether or not this practice should be embraced.