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Block Scheduling Versus Traditional Scheduling in High School

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Block Scheduling versus Traditional Scheduling in High School


Block scheduling has been recently favored by many high schools across the United States over traditional scheduling. This is due to the recognizable advantages of block scheduling as has been affirmed by many researches. Surveys also show revealed that increased academic performance of students can be easily achieved with block scheduling. The success of block scheduling can be accounted to the flexibility it offers in instruction. With block scheduling, teachers can diversify their learning styles since the length of instructional time is just adequate to cater both lecture and other student-oriented strategies. Although it appears that block scheduling has several advantages over traditional scheduling, such scheduling format has been criticized on various grounds. Thus it is necessary for traditional schools which consider shifting to block scheduling to plan the appropriate scheduling format to ensure success. The schools and the teachers must also be open to changes that come along the change in scheduling format.


High schools across the United States have been recently shifting form traditional scheduling to block scheduling. It was estimated that around 50 percent of secondary schools in the United States are now in some form of block scheduling. In Virginia for example, 168 of its 294 high schools use block scheduling according to the report by Short and Thayer (1999). The shift was basically driven by the desires of the schools' administrators, teachers and students to find a schedule which would result to high academic performance in all subject matters (Dexter et al., 2006). Traditional scheduling which has been implemented in many high schools before block scheduling was considered was almost purely lecture. Traditional schedule is commonly divided into six to eight period of instructions in a day with each period allotted with 40 to 55 minutes per day. Around 3 to 5 minutes of the instructional time however would be immediately lost in changing classes. Thus instead of considering the needs of the students, the teacher would only be focused on finishing the class discussion within the remaining instructional time (Queen, 2003). Although it appears that block scheduling increases instructional time, it actually reduces it. This happens because a two 50- minute class in traditional scheduling would be fused to make one 90-minute class (Dexter et al., 2006). The extended is the considered as the beneficial aspect of block scheduling as it gives teacher flexibility in their instruction. They can even veer away from the purely lecture traditional type of classes and incorporate more innovative method which would keep students' attention throughout the whole period. Lecture basically provides the students with the knowledge they need to acquire in the course but it must be considered that excessive lecture may take off students' interest. Block scheduling allows student oriented strategies to be incorporated in their curriculum thus it has been favored by many high schools as it could help schools achieve their goals which is to enhance learning and high academic performance of their students.

Literature Review

Block scheduling in a type of alternative scheduling format which was found to have several advantages over traditional scheduling. There are many forms of block scheduling Throughout the United States, two types of block scheduling have been developed: alternate day schedule (A/B schedule) and 4/4 schedule. Of the two types however, A/B is found to be easier to implement due to reduced political and administrative problems (Robbins et al., 2000). The first year of implementing block schedules is the most challenging part for the school as the outcome may not be anticipated yet. Teachers may also be uncertain whether or not block schedules which requires teaching at longer periods would really be effective. Teachers who have been teaching for years and not used to block schedules may even find themselves adjusting again like they were beginners. This is because teachers would have to change their traditional teaching method. Day, Ivanov and Binkley reported that if the school decides to implement block scheduling, they must also shift form the lecture type which dominates the traditional scheduling classes to a more student-oriented teaching methods such as hands-on activities, labs, fieldwork and giving projects to work on (Wilson et al, 1999).

Advantages of Block Scheduling

The 1996 research conducted by Michael Rettig and Robert Lynn Canady showed that 50 percent of middle schools in the United States consider block scheduling. In another study conducted by Sadowski (1996), revealed that many 80 percent of teachers and students prefer block scheduling over traditional scheduling within two years of implementation. Schools consider block scheduling primarily due to the results of recent studies which affirm that better retention and achievement are achieved in blocked schedule. The study by Lewis, Dugan, Winokur and Cobb (2005) concluded that compared with students in traditional scheduled schools, students in under the 4/4 block schedule have higher scores in mathematics and reading (Williams et al, 2007). This could be attributed to the fact that teachers could cover more information within a single 90-minute period than with two 50- minute periods (Queen et al, 1998).

One of the advantages of block scheduling over traditional scheduling is that teachers can incorporate other methods of teaching since lecture style would not be compatible with the block schedule. In science classes for example, block schedule allows block teachers to finish one laboratory activity in a day which would not have been possible within the 50 minutes traditional schedule (Dexter et al, 2006). Since laboratory activities would not be dragged for several periods, students' interest would ne maintained (Queen et al., 1998). The survey conducted Skrobarcek et al. revealed that block scheduling challenges the teachers' creativeness and innovativeness which would help them further bring students' interest to the subject. In this connection, teachers may use variety of teaching methods to fill the blocked class (Wilson et al., 1999) in order to keep students attention focused throughout the entire class period.

Aside from bigger accomplishment within a single instructional period, teachers and students alike would be benefited from block scheduling because school day would become less stressful for both parties. Block scheduling affects the school environment in a positive way primarily because tardiness would be lessened



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