Teaching Summer and Condensed Courses

Ensure Essentials Are Met

What is it?

While it is always important to create and tailor learning environments based on the contexts in which we teach, it’s paramount to do so in summer courses. Summer and other condensed courses concentrate and intensify students’ learning experiences and present challenges for instructors who need to maintain the level of rigor and ensure that students are still able to meet the same outcomes that are expected during a traditional semester. This requires instructors to make thoughtful and intentional adjustments to ensure that learning goals are being effectively met.


Consider the following strategies, which have been shown to help in the redesign process:

Reorganize your course. Prioritizing the course material will help you reorganize your content in a way to best utilize the course timing and lead to lasting learning. Introduce content that is foundational, or “must knows” early on so that the “need to knows” can be used to reinforce this information.

Rethink time in and out of class. Leverage the extended blocks of time you may have with your students in the summer by repurposing class time to create a sense of community through discussion, group work, guided reflection, and other activities that promote student interaction. Use time outside of class for communicating content heavy material so that the time students have with you in the class can be used to practice and receive feedback on their application of this material. Furthermore, deconstruct single, longer assignments into more manageable chunks to fit the “rhythm” of the course.

Provide additional student support. Students in condensed courses may need more or different kinds of support to be successful.  Being available outside of class and providing students lecture notes, presentation slides, or reading guides to highlight core content will help them feel supported and give you the opportunity to further reinforce the course material. Guiding your students on effective time management can also help them to succeed.


Kops, W. J. (2014). Teaching Compressed-Format Courses: Teacher-Based Best PracticesCanadian Journal of University Continuing Education40(1), 1-18.