What Is the Academic Experience Like?
Our small class sizes and legacy of personal attention have long been a great advantage in delivering a meaningful academic experience. Now, they’ve allowed us to nimbly adapt to online learning while still delivering strong student engagement.
Provost Teresa Abi-Nader Dahlberg, Ph.D., explains.
A Safer Semester
TCU’s revised academic calendar for fall 2020, created with public health in mind, minimizes non-essential travel over holidays and minimizes time on campus during peak flu and cold season. Classes started Aug. 17 and will end before Thanksgiving. This approach allows students to focus on their coursework in a concentrated manner.
Student Affairs offers resources to help students succeed in this compressed semester. There won’t be official study days prior to final exams, but a weekend falls between the third and fourth days of the exam period. Saturday classes (Sept. 26 and Oct. 24), which are required to meet accreditation requirements, are generally only for MWF classes, but students should check their syllabi to confirm.
Flexible Learning Environments
TCU is offering online and on-campus courses for the fall 2020 semester. Whether or not a course is online depends on several factors including class size, faculty teaching preference and the course material.
Choosing a Fully Online Experience
Students were given the option to choose a fully online learning experience, where applicable. Some courses are only available to be taken in person for accreditation requirements. Students who did not select the fully online option may have some online courses during the fall.
Even through a virtual experience, classes continue to engage students with highly personal instruction and virtual office hours.
Even if all classes are taken online, students can still live on campus, engaging with other students and activities. Residents aren't confined to their rooms for classes; we’ve repurposed many spaces across campus so students can gather together to learn online in small groups or find a quiet space to participate in virtual learning. Students should bring earphones, wear face coverings and maintain a safe physical distance.
In a fully online course, the instructor and all students in the class participate in the course remotely, even though some students may reside on campus and some instructors may instruct from campus.
In most cases, online courses are delivered synchronously (live) at least 80 percent of the time. That means real-time instruction at the designated class period—not learning by email, prerecorded lectures or online discussion threads. Students participate in face-to-face instruction via Zoom or Adobe Connect. Should the pandemic require TCU to move all courses online, these classes will continue uninterrupted.
On-Campus (In-Person) Courses
On-campus courses are delivered in a combined mode. An instructor delivers primary components of a course in a physically distanced classroom, also delivering to online students who may have requested online learning or who may be ill or self-isolating. TCU classrooms have undergone technology upgrades for an optimum, inclusive experience.
The instructor may deliver some course components online (such as selected lectures, labs, small group meetings or experiential learning). If the pandemic requires TCU to move all instruction online, on-campus courses will make a seamless transition to fully online. Lectures will continue to be primarily delivered in real time by instructors through Zoom or Adobe Connect at the appointed class times.
Faculty Training & Certification
Through the Koehler Center for Instruction, Innovation & Engagement, TCU faculty have undergone professional development in hybrid course delivery, and courses have been re-designed and prepared for the best delivery and a smooth transition between learning modes.
The center’s full-time staff provides leading-edge instructional design as well as technical and educational support for faculty to maximize learning engagement for students.
Inside the Classroom
Required Face Coverings
Cloth face coverings are required at all times in classrooms and outdoors in situations where physical distancing is not possible, such as shared walkways between classes. No food or drink is allowed in classrooms, as this would disrupt covering your nose and mouth. Students with conditions precluding them from wearing face coverings should contact Student Access & Accommodation about possible accommodations at 817-257-6567 or email@example.com.
Reconfigured Classrooms & Learning Spaces
Campus looks quite different this fall. There is new public health signage, protective partitions and reconfigured areas. Some event spaces have been repurposed as academic spaces in order to regulate classroom density and maintain a physical distance of six feet between people. Nearly every classroom has been equipped with Zoom technology.
Classrooms and common areas on campus are cleaned and disinfected daily, and electrostatic misters are used in high-traffic and high-touch areas. To further enhance public health, Horned Frogs are expected to take a moment to sanitize their desks and study areas using disinfecting supplies (provided by TCU) before and after using public spaces.
Enhanced Academic Support
Virtual faculty office hours provide the one-on-one guidance and the connective experience that is the hallmark of a TCU education. Academic Advising offers advising, support and consultations through a helpline. Call 817- 257-7486 or email Academic_Services@tcu.edu.
The Koehler Center
With more classes being offered online, students may find they need to manage their time and personal spaces more attentively. Tutorials and resources at tcuonline.tcu.edu are in place to help. The Koehler Center offers other robust resources to help students succeed online, including a student how-to-hub, a TCU Online student orientation tutorial, a 24/7/365 help desk, and a special mobile app (called Pulse) that helps students stay organized by displaying information for current TCU Online courses.
The TCU Campus Store
The store is offering free shipping for all online purchases for the remainder of
the fall semester. They have also extended the due date for rental books. For students
who may need digital access to textbooks or learning tools, several major publishers
have made content available at reduced cost or made digital versions free.
Internships & Career Development
Our career services have been ranked No. 8 in the country by The Princeton Review®, and students continue to receive personal attention and exemplary resources. The Center for Career & Professional Development is open and available to support students by offering career consulting, recruiting events, employer events and career preparation workshops in online formats should in-person meetings not be an option. Despite COVID-19, employers are still looking for TCU students to fill professional and internship positions. Most employers already utilize virtual strategies, recruiting our students through Handshake, the university’s career management platform.
The Mary Couts Burnett Library continues to be the heart of TCU’s Academic Commons, and students are encouraged to plan ahead before heading to the most popular study spot on campus.
Materials can be requested through the library’s catalog and students will be notified by email when items are ready for pick-up. Reference services are available in person and by phone, email, online chat or Zoom.
Access to the library will be via card swipe and face coverings are required at all times. Plexiglass barriers have been installed at help desks, and the checkout and return process has been amended to reduce contact. The capacity for general study spaces has been reduced for safety, and reserved study rooms are available for booking by individuals and for groups observing appropriate physical distancing.
Access to specialty services such as the Fab Lab, AV Center and Special Collections are available by appointment.
Because of the global pandemic, study abroad travel has been suspended until further notice. Creating global citizens is integral to TCU’s mission, so we've developed new programs like Global Scholars, which allows incoming first-year students to make progress toward global learning and study abroad even when international travel is not possible.