Deans propose potential core curriculum revisions

By Jen Maldonado

Changes are potentially coming to the College of Liberal Arts, Education and Sciences’ (CLAES) core curriculum.

The CLAES spring assembly took place on April 2 and the topic of discussion focused on the potential revisions to the required core classes. The possibilities presented, according to CLAES Dean Pat Mosto, were “not set in stone” but are the result of the university task force’s work for the past two years.

Danielle Jacobs, a member of the task force and assistant professor of chemistry, biochemistry and physics, presented the potential core model that would be 44-47 credits instead of the current 42-45 credits and would consist of four components: essential competencies, which would range from 13-16 credits; disciplinary perspectives which would be 25 credits; vertical dimension which would be six credits; and co-curricular experience, referring to any outside-the- classroom involvement with an internship, co-op or academic research with a faculty member.

“This proposed core will allow for broader options for core courses as well as interdisciplinary options, which are not allowed with the current core and the vertical integration of critical skills through upper level courses,” Jacobs said. “The most important part of the proposal is the creation of criteria that a course must follow to become part of the core. We don’t have current criteria and we feel there should be.”

When it comes to the section of essential competencies, students would be required to register for two writing composition courses, similar to what students take now, but one class would be taken during freshman year and the second would be a research based class taken during the sophomore year. Jacobs said that spreading out these critical writing courses will be beneficial since “students’ skills usually have grown after their first year of college.” Other components include one quantitative reasoning course, one or two foreign language courses, depending on a student’s placement testing and the addition of a one-credit speech communication course.

The disciplinary perspectives unit, which includes the typical history, philosophy, science and fine and performing arts courses, will see the creation of the natural science category in which students will take a four-credit science course that consists of a lecture class with a lab instead of having the option to take two science lecture courses.

“When it comes to the science courses, it’s more important for a student to take a course with a lab than just two courses with no lab because science is a practice,” Mosto said.

This disciplinary perspectives section will also see the addition of a new batch of courses titled the “global perspective.” Students will take a course that focuses on global issues regarding social problems, values, beliefs and economic issues from various cultures all around the world. Students will be required to take two courses at or above a 200-level in the same disciplinary perspective category that is not part of their major as well.

“This will strengthen and broaden content and skills in one of the perspectives and would encourage a student to take on a minor or even a second major,” Jacobs said.

Junior secondary education and English major Carlee Augliera thinks adding some courses will be useful to students.

“I think these changes will create more well- rounded students,” she said. “Making everyone take a speech class, for example, will make students more prepared for the real world and having an actual job. As an education major, I think it would be an overall good thing.”

Along with the addition of these courses, Jacobs discussed the idea of having guidelines that a course must follow in order to be considered a core curriculum class.

“One of the most important things of this proposal is the creating of criteria for a course that wants to be in the core,” Jacobs said.

The criteria would consist of three components. The first is course design, meaning the course is shaped around big ideas and encourages critical-thinking skills. The second is assignments and assessments, which refers to the concept of making sure the activities students will be doing in class are practicing their skills and knowledge as well as applying information in varying contexts. The third component is resource, which will make sure the key perspectives of the course are presented in ways other than just typical textbooks.

“We’re ready to put on paper a program we think will most benefit our students,” said Mosto. “Nothing has been approved, and a member of the task force will meet with each department to get feedback. We will revisit the changes in the fall assembly with the feedback incorporated.”


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