By Brian Baker (Whetstone Staff Writer)
The proposed curriculum includes a first-year seminar, two college writing courses, one science and one math class.
The second year will include integrated classes.“The hope is that an updated core curriculum will help retention rates and interest new students into coming here,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gibson, one of five faculty members facilitating the curriculum’s creation.
The proposed core curriculum would follow a progression model where students would have a set number of 100-level classes to take as a freshman, 200-level integrated classes as a sophomore, and 300-level themed classes as a junior.
“The problem with the current core is there is no progression of skills,” said Dr. Patricia Dwyer, vice president of academic affairs. “Students can take every credit needed to graduate at a 100 level, with the exception of a 200- literature. We decided that wasn’t helping students to progress at all.”
Level 1 or 100-level classes deal with essential skills and competencies. Level 2 involves breadth of knowledge, with classes covering arts, literature and religion. Level 3 deals with depth of understanding,
“There would be a 300-level course that builds on a 200-level course, and a 200-level course that builds on a 100-level course,” Gibson said. “It mirrors more what students are doing with their majors. We want these courses to be integrative, focusing on the inherent connections between that field and other disciplines such as math science, media and more.”
The current core requires 45 credits. The newly proposed core would require only 36, which Dwyer hopes will allow students to pursue a minor.
Dwyer said she has high hopes for the new core, especially the first year seminar for freshmen, which will include undergraduate research. Dwyer said research often doesn’t happen for many students until their junior or senior years.
“We would like to get students involved in research early on,” she said. “There will be many different topics at the seminar, and all will have some form of undergraduate research. We hope the first year seminar will be a real draw for students.”
Faculty meetings are currently being held to make amendments to the curriculum.
“It’s a long process, so we do not rush into anything,” Gibson said. “We have narrowed down a proposal for the faculty to amend and vote on. We are getting closer to passing a vote.”
Gibson said other schools have been moving toward the integrative curriculum models.
Dwyer wants to have the first components of the first level of the curriculum out by fall of 2013.
At least one student said he would like to see a different core.
“I understand the fact that as a student I have to take core classes like science, math, and writing,” said sophomore Evan Collotti. “But why do I need an exercise class like tennis as a media arts major? I guess rules are rules.”
“Many students don’t really understand the curriculum as it is now,” Dwyer said. “They are taking so many scattered courses, and I feel like we’re missing what a liberal arts college is about.”