College adds transformed courses for Fall semester

A series of “transformed” courses have been added to The Electronic Student Server (TESS) this semester in order to start the “transformative change” process set to begin in Fall 2004.

Subject areas including history, psychology, sociology, communication studies, journalism, mathematics, statistics, women and gender studies and all major sciences have reformed some classes. These new classes are worth four credits and are intensified, although they require only the usual classroom time of 80 minutes.

“Students will earn four credits even though they have the same amount of contact time,” Shirley Daniels of records and registration said.

According to Daniels, each department decided which courses they would begin reforming.

Gail Simmons, dean of the School of Science, said that all the majors in the School of Science are highly structured. In order for a student to graduate in four years, a specific sequence in each major must be followed closely for the first two years.

“Therefore, most of our emphasis in transformation has been on the introductory majors’ courses,” Simmons said. “Students entering in Fall 2003 will be able to take a ‘transformed’ freshman sequence and be ready for transformed sophomore courses when the whole college transforms in Fall 2004.”

According to Simmons, the transformed courses in mathematics and biology will reduce the number of introductory courses.

“We were told that the freshman and sophomore level classes should be among first to be transformed and they have been,” Raymond Fangboner, chair of the the biology department, said.

Simmons also said that for chemistry, physics and computer science majors, the number of introductory courses will remain the same.

More problem-solving sessions will be added to reinforce material covered in labs and lectures, she said.

Arthur Hohmuth, chair of the psychology department, said that all psychology courses taken by incoming students in their freshman and sophomore year are being transformed. Remaining courses, mostly for juniors and seniors, will be transformed for Fall 2004.

“The idea was to make sure all incoming freshmen would be 100 percent of the new program and to make it possible for current freshman to also get on board,” Hohmuth said. “Juniors and seniors will finish out their current program.”

Suzanne Pasch, dean of the School of Culture and Society, was unable to be reached for comment.

The School of Education has not transformed any classes yet.

“It’s all a work in progress so that everything isn’t happening all at once,” Roberta Conjura, assistant director of STEP (Support for Teacher Education Programs) in the department of Education, said. “We’re in progress now planning the changes.”

“We’re deliberately provoking conversations within each department because each department has to be able to specify the most important elements of their curriculum,” Stephen Briggs, provost, said.

According to Briggs, the initial idea for the transformation came in Jan. 2001 when faculty members made the recommendation.

By Fall 2004, implementation of the new curriculum for incoming students will be complete.

“I’m an education major and I worry if I’ll be able to graduate in time with all these changes,” Christine Brower, sophomore elementary education and psychology major, said.

“We don’t want to harm any student because of the impact of the changes,” Daniels said. “Somehow it will all be taken into account.”