The faculty voted Tuesday to reduce required CORE hours from 12 to nine, combining two CORE class together and another CORE class with BIBLE 440. The other proposal the senate approved will consolidate seven majors in the Department of Bible, Missions and Ministry to two.
The changes to the general education will go into effect next semester and will affect any student who hasn’t completed all of the required CORE classes.
CORE 120 (Human Person and Identity) will be consolidated with CORE 220 (Community) into a three-hour class. CORE 320 (Transcendence) will merge with BIBLE 440, currently a two-hour course, to create a single three-hour course.
The changes result in five new credit hours available among the 56 general education hours required for all students. The Faculty Senate approved a proposal to put three credits in a foreign language or cultural competency menu and two credits for a general education elective.
The faculty also approved the termination of seven majors in the Department of Bible, Missions and Ministry and the addition of two. Biblical Text, Christian Ministry, Ministry to Children and Families, Missions, Vocational Missions Emphasis, Worship Ministry and Youth and Family Ministry will be discontinued at the end of this semester. A Bible and Ministry major and Vocational Ministry major will be added in their place.
Dr. Kim Pamplin, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, administered the referendum as part of his role as Past Chair of the Faculty Senate. He said the results showed about a 2:1 ratio in favor of the two proposals.
“I think this shows an overwhelming support for the proposals,” Pamplin said. “It’s good when the results show without a doubt there is a majority of support for these changes.”
Dr. Nancy Shankle, interim assistant provost for general education, said the changes to the general education will affect all students who still need these specific general education credit hours.
“If a student has taken 12 hours of CORE, he or she has completed that part of general education,” Shankle said. “If a student has taken nine, then he or she can take anything off the social science menu to bring it up to 12. Students who have taken less than nine will still need to take at least one more of the new CORE classes.”
Shankle said she worked with the registrar’s office and provost’s office to create a chart of the new information. All academic advisers have the information to be able to assist students in planning their schedules for next semester.
Dr. Greg Straughn, interim provost, said student feedback helped administration know what parts of the CORE curriculum were beneficial and what needed to be changed.
“It’s fair to say we hit rough water when we launched Cornerstone but it went much better the next year,” Straughn said. “It’s also been better received by sophomore students than freshmen, partly because they have been here for more than a full year and have a wider understanding of what the university is like and can better understand weightier topics.”
Straughn said administration and faculty have been listening for students’ thoughts on CORE since the curriculum was launched.
“The student’s voice has been heard,” he said. “Student reactions varied from ‘This is a really great class’ to ‘CORE is a waste of time,’ and we heard everything in between.”
Shankle said the changes were a necessary part of evaluating the CORE curriculum, which began in in the Fall 2010 semester.
“Any time you roll out such a significant to a core curriculum you need to have regular evaluations,” she said. “We learned that we could use fewer hours to still meet the desired learning outcomes. We are able to maintain the integrity of the model in teaching integrated learning but be more efficient in teaching it.”
The CORE consolidations will save the university money by reducing the number of faculty to teach the CORE courses. The general education classes will also improve with these changes, positively affecting students’ education, Shankle said.
“Fifty-six of your 128 hours required for a student’s degree is general education,” she said. “General education gives you the breadth and foundation to a college education that you can then build your major on. The way to have the maximum impact on all of the degrees on campus is to improve general education.”
Shankle said administration had been talking about the foreign language/cultural competency addition but hadn’t had the chance to implement it until now.
“The cultural competency courses will get students to explore how to interact with different cultures,” she said. “We have classes like that all over campus and we will come up with criteria for classes to meet to be included in the new cultural competency menu.”
Straughn said the decision to consolidate the Identity and Community classes was not just about efficiency, but also that it would be an improvement to the curriculum to talk about both topics in the same course.
“We decided we should talk about both individual identity and community so we could streamline and not lose the original thrust of the objectives of CORE and make an experience that students will engage in more willingly,” Straughn said. “While this is more efficient, it’s not sacrificing what we wanted with the original objectives and the pedagogy of the whole enterprise.”