Counting down the minutes

Brian Chang, News Editor

At Diamond Bar High School, students spend a substantial amount of their time in class without direction. 

Even when teachers are giving instructions, students spend a vast majority of their time working on their own in class. 

It is common, then, for students to sit in class and count the minutes until the bell rings.

For the week of Nov. 27, that is exactly what the staff of The Bull’s Eye did in about 58 classes. 

Classes were divided into five core subjects: foreign language, mathematics, English, science and social studies. Electives were omitted from the study.

Minutes were apportioned into seven categories for English, science and social studies: homework, lecturing and notes, tests and quizzes, videos and movies, presentations, group or classwork and nothing.

For the purposes of the study, “nothing” was defined as any time students were not explicitly directed to perform any specific activity.

For foreign language, a class discussion category was added, and for mathematics, an opening activity category was added.

In addition, a separate category for the TEDx speeches was added, though this does not show up for every subject.

The study does not attempt to provide concrete data representing every class on campus, since not every class is represented.

Instead, the data should be taken as a representation of each subject category in general. In addition, data from days when students were absent is omitted.

For foreign language classes, approximately 63 percent of class time is spent on classwork and discussions.

This distribution is expected due to the need for repetition in order to learn a new language. Surprisingly, students spend about five percent of their time on doing nothing, more than double the time they spend on reviewing homework.

They spend even less time on quizzes and tests.

In contrast, lectures and tests or quizzes take up more than 40 percent of the time spent in mathematics classes.

Yet, once again, students spent more time doing nothing than reviewing homework, spending about 18 percent of their time on doing nothing.

As a comparison, they only spend 15 percent of their time on reviewing homework.

Classwork and lectures take about 56 percent of time spent in English classes.

In these classes, time spent working on nothing is the third-largest category, followed closely by tests and quizzes.

In science courses, classwork makes up about 33 percent of total class time, with notes following closely at 31 percent.

Here, the nothing category trails homework by one percent.

Every other category takes up less than 10 percent of total time in class.

Social studies classes, along with foreign language ones, are the only ones in which time spent doing nothing makes up less than 10 percent of total time spent in the classroom.

These courses are also the most balanced in terms of time allocation, as only the classwork category accounts for more than a fourth of total time at 28 percent.  

The study indicates that overall, time spent doing nothing makes up a large proportion of time spent in class, making up at least five percent in every core subject.

Without considering foreign language, this number jumps to almost 10 for each.

Classes are also less focused on exams than one may expect, taking up at most 20 percent of total class time across all core subjects.