SAIT is one of the few post-secondary institutions in Alberta that don’t have a fall semester reading week, and there is debate about its potential benefits for students.
After completing his first year in the Broadcasting program at SAIT, Michael Kaufman is now in the Electrical Apprenticeship program.
“There’s not enough time in an eight-week course for a reading week, but our final exam, the TQ, is an exam that covers material from all three classes and you need a 75 per cent on it to pass the course,” said Kaufman.
If we had a week before that exam to review all of our course material it would be nice. – Michael Kaufman
In comparison, Kaufman said, “Broadcasting has a much higher workload.
“Everything in broadcasting has to be prepared weeks in advance and you always have to take your work home with you, preparing material for your show the next day.
“Electrical has a far smaller workload in the sense that everything you’re learning is practical, and you don’t often have to take work home with you,” Kaufman said.
He said that having a small break would have been beneficial for him, in the broadcasting program, to catch up and recuperate.
Mount Royal University adopted a fall reading break this fall, while the U of C gives students an extended weekend in November. NAIT is currently looking into the possibility of adopting a fall break in the future.
To date, however, SAIT has made no decision to follow suit.
An article published by The Star, said Queen’s University, “had experienced several cases of suicide in less than two years,” and that they need to “balance exam timetables, train more staff to spot the signs of severe stress and create a fall break for overwhelmed undergrads.”
Ultimately, Queen’s chose to opt out of the fall semester break, concluding that a change in scheduling was the answer.
Students at the University of Lethbridge are granted a reading week in November, but Soubhi Saegh, a neurobiology major, said that it isn’t beneficial for him.
“I think that the purpose of reading break isn’t to help you academically. It’s a break we’re given at a time when the likelihood of suicide is highest and it’s meant to be a break from the stress of university,” Saegh said.
“Because we lose a week of classes, some professors expect you to be responsible for teaching yourself a portion of the class material that they no longer have the time to teach.
“That’s kind of a disadvantage, as you probably wouldn’t teach yourself as well as they would teach it to you,” he said.
Daniel Jardine, an engineering student at the University of Victoria, said that he would have liked to have a break in the semester, but not for academic reasons.
“[My] home is in Calgary, and it would have been nice to be able to have a break from life [in Victoria],” he said.
“Although there is a winter break for that anyway.”
Jardine said that with the right amount of organization, a break doesn’t seem necessary in the fall.