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Teaching in a Shortened Course Format

Rasmussen University's Guide to Teaching in a Shortened Course Format

This guide is designed to help faculty transition from teaching courses in an 11 week format to teaching courses in shorter term lengths.  While this guide is specifically intended for faculty transitioning to teach 5.5 week courses, it also will be useful for those teaching courses in our AcceleratED programs with 6 week terms. Regardless, faculty are strongly encouraged to explore this training resource prior to beginning their first term teaching in a short course format.

On this home page, you will find some resources the show the benefits of shortened or accelerated courses, as well as some significant results Rasmussen University has seen with shortened term courses in Developmental Education. The rest of the guide will provide important details about faculty expectations for teaching 5.5 week courses, and it will also highlight instructional strategies that have been effective for Rasmussen faculty who have been successful in teaching shorter term courses in our AcceleratED programs.

Rasmussen Educational Unit (REUs) for completing this Guide

You can earn 1 Rasmussen Educational Unit (REU) toward Teaching Development for completing this guide, you must complete the survey at the end of the guide and document your development in Salesforce

An Overview of Term Lengths at Rasmussen University

Program Type Current Term Length Future Term Length
Traditional Programs An 11 week term within a 13 week quarter Two 5.5 week terms within a 13 week quarter
AcceleratED Programs Two 6 week terms within a 13 week quarter Two 5.5 week terms within a 13 week quarter
New Programs Two 5.5 week terms within a 13 week quarter Two 5.5 week terms within a 13 week quarter

As you work through this guide, it will be helpful to understand the various program types and course term lengths currently offered at Rasmussen University and where we are headed in the future.  Traditionally, Rasmussen University has offered programs with courses that run in 11 week terms in a 13 week quarter structure.  This allowed for two weeks between the end of course work in one quarter and the start of course work in the next quarter.  This provided faculty with both a break week and a week devoted to faculty professional development.  In 2012, on account of market demand and a growing body of encouraging research regarding accelerated programs, Rasmussen University began offering "fast-track learning" in our AcceleratED programs with 6 week terms in a 13 week quarter.  These 6 week terms meant that faculty teaching these courses would still have teaching duties to complete during Faculty Development Week.  

In 2015, Rasmussen University made the strategic decision to begin offering all or most courses in programs with two 5.5 week terms (some courses, like labs and clinicals, will stay in 11 week formats due to the need for longer term lengths to meet learning objectives).  This means new programs will be developed in a 5.5 week structure, and courses in our traditional and AcceleratED programs will convert to 5.5 week terms over time.  This conversion will take many quarters to complete given the size and scope of this conversion process.

Why 5.5 And Not 6 Week Courses?

You might ask why Rasmussen University decided to go with 5.5 week courses versus 6 week courses already used in our AcceleratED programs.  The decision was driven primarily by the desire to retain 2 weeks between the end of course work and the start of course work between quarters.  This allows us to have Faculty Development Weeks that are not in conflict with teaching obligations.   Additionally, this gives our academic support staff more time to run student Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) reports and reschedule students in courses as needed.   

Benefits of Accelerated, Fast-Track Learning

Fast-Track Learning

Click on the image above or the link below to learn about some of the benefits to accelerated, "fast-track" learning.

Short Courses and Developmental Education

In 2012, Rasmussen University began using a short course (6 week) format for developmental education courses.  Since that time, we have seen significant gains in the outcomes for both developmental math and English.  While shortened courses (or "accelerated terms") are not the sole cause for these increases, and further investigation is warranted, these results are promising. For more research on shorter term lengths for developmental education across Higher Education, visit the Community College Research Center's Accelerated Developmental Education Models