EPAG Curricular Restructuring Forum 10/30/03
DK: must have structures beyond autonomous departments/majors to support outcomes based grad requirements…e.g. establish committees for each outcome, all faculty belong to one, committees have authority and are responsible for their outcome; or establish a large committee to oversee graduation requirements, course release for each member to support their work….
Meeting Focus: Majors/Minors
AL: Overview of issues to consider
Majors: 9-19 courses, disciplinary and interdisciplinary (up to 14 courses)
Consider limiting # of majors?
Minor: not currently well defined (purpose, sequencing, depth)
Concentration: third curricular pathway under consideration
Commitment not to threaten quality of majors, but should there be an upper limit to number of courses, different depending on division?
DK: Major = one successful element of curriculum, replicated at other schools, tight organizational structure, departmental autonomy, responsible to professional societies, no evidence that strong science majors fail to take courses outside of division while this may be an issue for students from other divisions
MD: is there a minimum limit we should be concerned with rather than upper limit?
MS: but this is a liberal arts college, be true to philosophy of liberal arts by giving up some depth to encourage broad preparation
JS: biology does not have a 19 course major (14-15 total courses for major without emphasis, 8 are biology courses, others outside of dept. – these courses required for all undergrad biol majors
AL: should interdiscip. dept. be allowed to have majors with larger number of courses? College be clear about relationship between majors and liberal arts phil, clarity about minors, etc.
SM: loosely structured minor to support liberal arts philosophy?
MD: add rigor to minor or make it broadly accessible?
DK: minor = create value out of nothing with no cost, provide credential/small reward, no problem with it
AL: not miniature majors, some dept. don’t offer minors; minor requirements vary across departments
DK: leave it up to departments
JS: teaching concerns, first years and seniors too frequently in same classes, outside sciences = few majors and non-majors classes
MD, SM: issue across departments
AL: if too many majors have to wait for course spots to open
JR: Carleton = Sophomore priority system to address problem above; re concentrations: students advocated for concentrations, faculty supported these for interdisciplinary reasons
DK: students receive credential for stats minor, doubled enrollment in advance stats courses…acknowledgement on transcript and sense of community important and no cost
JS: emphases, minors, etc. allow us to meet varied needs, cost of being too restrictive
MS: how to avoid dead end of the ‘core’
AL: concentration = 7-9 courses, steering committee, decide no major but want more than minor; sequence of courses linked by road map, include department based into and capstone courses; inherently interdisciplinary; could not graduate with concentration
Before with only 2 options all want to be majors for resource reasons though not necessary for curricular reasons; other places have done it with success; not appropriate to be a major if no methodology but could still have curricular coherence beyond minor;
DK: four structure = pathway, e.g., sampling of 4 course with credential, goal is to have multiple faculty involved
AL: layout alternatives for advising, organizing curricular guidelines, credentials not required
??: other institution; two overlapping majors = structures to reduce ‘double dipping’, a concern; quality concern = implies more work than actually accomplished
DK: another approach to adding value without adding cost, allows students to focus/achieve depth in more than one area
JS: important curricular reasons for dept. to count other dept courses for major
AL: could require students to declare plans at beginning rather than adding majors opportunistically at the end
JS: how rigorous are our capstones? Examine senior year experience in major…need to clarify/develop capstone criteria…
AL: disciplinary vs. interdisciplinary capstones, credit numbers vary, no best practices/clear direction other than must require capstone experience for major
SM: WGS trying to sort out what interdis capstone should be; can’t do it with ill-structured minors; theoretical/methodological issues raised
Off the record discussion of study abroad criteria
AL: agreement on concern re: too many majors??
??: not fair to compare number of course requirements for majors, varies by division
MS: do we require depth in major (or volume?), address issues of prerequisites
AL: some departments have flat curriculum, limited methods courses, etc.; varies by discipline; insist on moving through majors in sequence?
DK: major where students can take intro and capstone same semester of senior year
MS: variations in disciplinary hierarchy but must be some hierarchy?
AL: could add structure even to ‘flat’ majors, encourage hierarchy of thinking skills, etc. through course designations
JS/MD: material may not be sequence specific but seniors and sophs are at different developmental levels, student centered approach would attempt to respond to this
DK: look at courses that attract wide range of students and examine these
AL: sequencing consideration tend to focus on content
??: soph and seniors could be in same course but vary expectations?
JS: difficult to determine how to focus the course
SM: soph priority is important, students entering with experience but not intellectual background = disruptive
JS: might affect grade inflation
MD: will have diversity of students due to breath concerns
AL: majors aren’t broken, encourage sequencing perhaps
Sophomore priority for sophomore level classes would help to steer traffic without being restrictive; prevent sophs from delaying entry in soph level courses due phenomenon of over-subscribed departments.