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.