Undergrad requirements revisited, to be revised
After two years of debate about the proposed core curriculum requirements for UALR’s undergraduate students, Simple is best was the general consensus on Sept. 7 during an open faculty meeting about the curriculum, where professors were encouraged to suggest their own proposals and amendments.
The official document is titled the Undergraduate Curriculum Revision Task Force: Revised Report and Recommendations and is dated April 25, 2012. The meeting was devised to lend a voice to the professors who the new requirements would affect. They were permitted to share any critiques or grievances regarding the the tentative blueprint for the core curriculum.
Proposals brought forth in the meeting included placing class limits on dual-competency courses, mandating periodic performance assessments, and inviting each college to submit its own curriculum requirements.
Angela Hunter, a philosophy major, called for the revisions report to “consider humanities as a whole, rather than a list of check-boxes.”
The revisions report document, which Laura Smith-Olinde, professor of audiology and speech pathology, says is only a draft until voted on in upcoming faculty senate meetings, requires a direct incorporation of coursework that stresses writing, technology, values and critical thinking across the dis ciplines.
“Complaints about student writing are universal across the campus,” said Daryl Rice, associate vice chancellor for student success. “We can’t burden rhetoric and writing with all of this. Every major should require intensive writing. My recommendation? Prioritize. That’s how the sausage gets made.”
Nickolas Jovanovic, associate professor of construction management and civil and construction engineering, supplied the curriculum committee with an extensive proposal of what he said would best benefit the students. Essentially, it adheres to the 35-hour state core regulation, but suggests a more diverse choice of science, humanities and social sciences courses than that of the undergraduate curriculum revision committee document.
Other than reducing the credit hours from 44 to 35, the UCR draft requires implementing more upper-level social science and arts courses. It also demands the proficiency of a second language or 2000 level course, however some programs may seek exemptions to the proposed policy. These would include the programs already operating under their own curriculum like the Donaghey Scholars, nursing and business programs. If the UCR is passed as is through the committee meetings, it would include a fall break and Thanksgiving holiday as part of the schedule.
Concerns over the document surfaced frequently in the meeting. Some worried that the language was too vague. Some expressed disdain for the likelihood of removing certain programs. Some felt that requiring every course to be “technology-intensive” could be problematic and expensive. One professor feared that giving this policy the stamp of approval would also come with a deficit.
All UALR colleges must already meet the requirements of several committees to maintain their accreditations. “With the revision implementation, that’ll just be one more committee to which we will have to prove our accreditation,” said Construction Management Director Michael Tramel.
“How many of our students are nontraditional, or have full-time jobs? The proposal could mean more hours to pile onto them,” said English professor Trey Philpotts.
The core curriculum credit minimum is currently at 44 hours. However, transfer students, who the UCR reports make up 70 percent of the university’s total student population, may end up completing almost 50 hours to meet the requirements set forth by UALR’s core curriculum.
The idea of a new curriculum was first proposed in 2010, and continues to be a source of much controversy. The recommendations must go before more panels before becoming official.
The next Faculty Senate assembly is September 21. The next curriculum meetings are scheduled for October 5 and November 11. These meetings are open to the public.