Professor Howard Smith of the Chemical Biomedical Engineering department of Johns Hopkins University was shocked last week when informed that students had been attending other classes the entire semester.
When asked by The News-Letter to comment on how students balance their workload, he expressed genuine confusion to learn that students were certainly taking more than one and at times up to five or six classes.
“Is this each semester?” he asked.
Smith expressed curiosity as to whether this had been going on this whole time or whether it was an initiative that had been started by the university this semester.
“I thought it was odd,” said Gillian Woods, a senior in the professor’s class. “Other than the classes, the difficulty and quantity of the workload, and the grading scale, the professor is such a relaxed and easygoing guy. It adds up now that I know he just didn’t understand about the other classes.”
Woods received a 45 percent on her last exam, placing her in the upper half of her class. Fred Barnes, a junior majoring in International Studies who overheard Woods’ interview expressed concern as to whether this may be a problem in other departments as well.
“I didn’t understand why each class was expecting me to read 800 pages each week,” he confessed, zipping open his suitcase of books that he brings to the library. “This makes much more sense.”
“I thought the other books they were carrying around were recreational reading,” commented Smith, elaborating that though he found the hours the students seemed to be studying incommensurate to the assignments, that he had simply thought them to be ineffective at studying.
Smith questioned whether the purported other classes the students were taking were “just as important as [his]” or “recreational.” Having been assured that all classes were, indeed, weighted the same, Smith assured The News-Letter that he would be sure to immediately notify the rest of his colleagues of the situation. Smith was shocked to find out that even students in the Whiting School of Engineering must fulfill a writing requirement in order to graduate.
“You have to take writing classes? Even as an engineer? Like poetry?”
With this new information, Professor Smith might reconsider the amount of reading he assigns.
“Maybe,” he said.