Steps Along the Way
On-Campus Undergraduate Programs
"Block classes move at warp speed. Students bear the responsibility of keeping up their assignments as they travel, camp, mesh with local communities, conduct field studies, and apply their knowledge to the understanding of real-world problems."
Blocks and Semesters
Prescott College uses a novel "block and semester" term. A block is an intensive, four- week-long course dedicated to one subject. A semester is an eleven-week period when students can take several classes simultaneously. During block periods, students must be 100 percent available and dedicated to the class. Many classes take place in the field. Block classes move at warp speed. Students bear the responsibility of keeping up their assignments as they travel, camp, mesh with local communities, conduct field studies, and apply their knowledge to the understanding of real-world problems.
Prescott College classes are small, allowing for more opportunities to participate, debate, and interact with the faculty. US news and World Report consistently recognizes Prescott College for achieving one of the nation's lowest student-to-faculty ratios. The College maintains an authentic student-to-faculty ration of 10:1 in on-campus classrooms and as low as 5:1 in field-based studies. Small classes encourage students to think critically and express themselves clearly, and enable faculty to meet individual interests and needs. Students are often involved in group projects, presentations, and even co-teaching. These small classes are an ideal forum for developing students' analytic, writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills.
Students direct and personalize their education by developing a learning contract for each course. All classes begin with a learning contract between student and instructor. The contract describes what the student wants to study within the parameters of the course syllabus, and how the student will demonstrate what he or she has learned. Within these constraints, students and instructors negotiate objectives, activities, and criteria for evaluation. Contracts enable both each student and the instructors to individualize course content and activities.
Students keep a portfolio, or learning journal, for each course they take. The material contained in the portfolio serves primarily as a teaching and learning tool to provide a basis for documenting the learning process, for feedback, evaluation, and future reference. The content and nature of the course portfolios vary considerably depending upon the subject. The portfolio may contain personal journals, class and field notes, reports, papers, and reflections on readings.
To evaluate mastery of the material, Prescott College uses a system of performance- based evaluations, consisting of student self-evaluations combined with narrative faculty evaluations. Instead of distilling student progress into a single letter grade, the 150-word narrative evaluations allow faculty to articulate the learning process, and the results, in detail. Students can also elect to receive a grade. For students who request grades for at least 90 percent of coursework, the College can calculate a grade point average.
Internship experiences can supplement and strengthen students' educational programs, allowing them to apply their knowledge and skills and clarify future goals. Internships help students test their career choices early and develop the self-confidence, communication skills, and professionalism needed to perform competent work after college. Previous graduates have completed as many as four internships, varying in length from one quarter to over one year. Some students return to their internship sponsors for post-graduate employment. The Student Life Office maintains active files of organizations and job contacts to help students find internships that enhance their educational programs.
Organizations where students have served as interns
- Amnesty International
- Arizona–Sonoran Desert Museum
- Baja Expeditions
- Boojum Institute
- California Institute of Earth, Art, and Architecture
- Center for Economic Conservation
- Explore Magazine
- Highlands Center for Natural History
- Joppa Flats Education Center
- Mingus Mountain Residential Treatment Center
- New England Aquarium
- Outward Bound
- Penn State University's Berks Campus
- Rocky Mountain Field Institute
- Sierra Club
- Turning Point Shelter
- Utah Avalanche Forecast Center
- West Yavapai Guidance Clinic
In any given term, up to one-third of Prescott College students design and enroll in Independent Studies. Independent studies, undertaken individually or in groups under the supervision of faculty sponsors, qualified mentors, or outside organizations, form an integral part of the College's curriculum and an important component of self-directed learning. These studies provide important learning experiences for advanced students and serve to significantly extend the range and diversity of the curriculum by rounding out Degree Plans in preparation for graduation.
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