General Education forum looks into revising curriculum

By Allison McCausland

A&E and Online Editor

Starting on Oct. 15 and finishing around Nov. 13, student forums have taken place to survey and discuss a revision of the general education requirements for each major’s curriculum.

The Working Group on the Review & Revision of the General Education Curriculum is co-chaired by Associate Dean of Academic life, Dr. Scott Mattingly, and Director of Exploratory Studies and Instructor of Education, Mr. Ben Durham. Their goal is to survey students and faculty in each department at DeSales in order to assess the benefits and detriments of their personal experiences fulfilling and working with general education courses.

A recent forum for the Humanities and Education departments was conducted in the Dooling Auditorium with an online survey from PollEv.com. Students had the chance to answer multiple choice and short answer questions about the General Education forum looks into revising curriculum perceived value and personal experience with general education courses. The courses that were surveyed fall under the categories of Physical Education & Health, Composition and Rhetoric, World Cultures/ Languages, Humanities 1-4, Modes of Thinking (MOT), and Theology/Philosophy.

The forum was introduced by Durham and Dr. Sarah Nytroe, the Liberal Arts and Social Sciences representative on the Working Group.

“Academic Affairs has taken on the initiative to review and revise the General Education curriculum, said Nytroe. “It dates back from 1987 and really hasn’t undergone an overhaul since that time.”

She later detailed that the working group consists of five additional faculty members from each academic division, including Dr. Sue McGorry, Fr. Doug Burns, Ms. Angela Grossman, and Ms. Annmarie Houck.

Before the survey, Durham stated that the working group was looking for “quality over quantity” in having the requirement of general education courses for graduation, but that they understood that some of the practices of having these courses are dated and in need of revision.

“We’ve been hearing similar themes across the different ones we’ve done,” said Durham, “so all we’re trying to get a sense of is [the students to] share [their] personal experiences.”

Although many of the multiple-choice sections displayed results as having students satisfied with taking the courses, their caveats surfaced as well.

Short answer responses showed that the biggest concern students had with taking general education courses was scheduling them along with their major required classes, often having the two clash and create overarching issues of completing the course count for graduation.

“[It’s] a challenge to stay on sequence with certain courses,” said Durham. “We can’t offer all courses geared towards all majors because we don’t have enough teachers to teach all of that.”

It was then discussed how the faculty for each department only has a handful of overlapping classes for certain majors as well as featuring a values seminar that isn’t always available on a yearly basis

Another common concern was the relevance of certain courses contributing to their overall major.

“Part of what our group is interested in doing is trying to help the core be a little more cohesive so that it’s just not a bunch of classes someone tells you to take,” said Durham.

It has been found so far that students enjoy having more choices and flexibility in the grand scheme of things, but other factors based on major or course scheduling will always complicate things.

With the student forums wrapping up, the information gathered from students, as well as compiling data from the faculty surveys sent out at the beginning of October, the Working Group will move into their review and revision phase to see what could be restructured in the General Education curriculum.

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