Study Hall Introduced for ‘13-‘14

Following the faculty meeting vote last winter supporting preps receiving Pass/Fail grades during their fall term, the Curriculum Committee has brought forth another proposal—a study hall—to address the development of study habits for preps.

The newest proposal suggests the creation of a quiet, voluntary study hall that preps could check out to during study hours. This study hall, which in a Monday vote was supported by the majority of instructors, would be monitored.

Director of Studies Laura Marshall said that the recent proposals are in response to the school’s original request in spring of 2010 that charged the Curriculum Committee, consisting of faculty members from different departments, to examine the prep experience.

“We worked for two years and made recommendations to the principal last spring. Throughout the year the faculty has been discussing and voting on the recommendations,” Marshall said.

One of the main reasons for the proposal is the feedback that the Curriculum Committee received from four-year seniors, which made it evident that they wished that study hours were a more structured, organized time with a conducive environment for focused work.

“Many preps have not had to organize their time and develop study skills before coming to Exeter,” the Curriculum Committee’s drafted proposal stated. “The committee believes that they should experience different environments and give intentional thought to the environment that provides the most support for their learning.”

History instructor Giorgio Secondi said that the proposal aimed to create a focused study area. “I think it’s in part a response to the fact that the dorm can be an environment where preps are easily distracted during study hours, so we tried to address that,” he said.

While there have been different questions raised by faculty members in debate over the issue, many seem to be in favor of the newest proposal. Math instructor and Curriculum Committee member Dale Braile believes that the new study hall will facilitate a better environment for some preps.

“We’re hoping that students will leave their computers and the distraction of sites such as Facebook. While some students can work in the midst of that, other students would benefit from a quiet environment,” Braile said. “The dorm is quiet enough of an environment for many people to work in, but some students might prefer a completely quiet environment. For instance, a student may have a roommate on the phone while they are trying to write a paper.”

Marshall agreed. “Since it is strictly voluntary, I see no harm in offering it as an option to preps.  If it is utilized, then we are creating an environment that preps find helpful,” she said. “If it is not utilized, then we can examine why that is the case and end it if that seems to be the most appropriate decision.”

On the other hand, some faculty members thought that passing this new proposal would have a negative impact on the Academy community and the new prep classes.

“What the proposal considers ‘student support’ represents a transfer away from the individual student both of responsibility and of an essential opportunity to grow up,” science instructor Townley Chisholm said. “The school makes a terrible mistake when we change the identity of the school from a school that relies on self-motivated students to a school that tries to impose motivation from the outside.”

While the debate amongst faculty members continues, members of the current prep class also voiced their opinion about the study hall idea.

 “I think it would be beneficial as a prep if you're not used to having the study habits you need to have at Exeter,” prep Jake Della Pasqua said. “That being said, it definitely should not be mandatory. Some people come from schools where they were challenged, and they know how to work well, or they think they're doing fine on their own without this structured system.”

On the other hand, prep Audrey DeGuerrera said that her dormmates are really her “support system,” in a sense. DeGuerrera believes that the noise level in the dorm is not the main issue that she faced when trying to adjust to Exeter’s rigorous academics. “Adjusting to living away from home influenced my academics more than not having a quiet place to study,” she said.

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