Administration has made more changes to the Core curriculum this year, including special topics, a new order of courses and a smaller number of required hours.
The Core curriculum is part of the general education program. Dr. Nancy Shankle, assistant provost for general education, said while not a lot of changes are being made to the general education program, several adjustments have been made to Core.
Shankle said as the curriculum and assessment reviews from last year were appraised, administration realized they had some things out of order in the curriculum.
In the past, freshmen would take Cornerstone during their fall semester, where they would write a research paper. However, they would usually take English 112, the class that would teach them the skills of writing a research paper, during the spring semester.
Instead of writing a research paper before receiving instruction about writing a college research paper, Cornerstone students are now being assigned to create an annotated bibliography of sources they could use to answer a research question. English 112 is now a prerequisite for the second Core course, in which students will be required to write a research paper.
Shankle said administration added more spotlight speakers and revisions to the Core class curriculum.
“Every year, teachers will revise their curriculum to see what’s working, what needs to be sharpened,” she said. “We’ve sharpened some of the assignments there, and we’re providing more resources for teachers, and the teachers are working together to prepare notes. So that’s all behind the scenes.”
Shankle said these changes were introduced to help the teachers, because many faculty members are teaching Cornerstone for the first time this year. More than 30 sections of Cornerstone are being offered this semester.
In the Core curriculum, Shankle said the faculty voted to go from 12 hours of Core to six hours of Core, plus a class that is labeled as a Bible course.
“It has the Bible prefix, but it is an integrative, team-taught experience,” she said.
In the combined Bible and Core class, called BCOR, there will be a Bible professor and a non-Bible professor team teaching. Dr. Shankle said the theme for that class is “God and the Good Life.”
“It’s talking about what kind of theological perspectives we can draw on as we make choices about our calling, our lives and how we can have a better understanding of biblical perspectives on all of the areas of our lives,” Shankle said.
Shankle also said “Identity and Community” is being offered this semester as a special topic. The class combines what was two three-hour courses into one.
She said BCOR and “Identity and Community” are under development and are being taught in pilot sections this semester. “Identity and Community” has gone through council and has been approved, but BCOR has yet to go through council. Shankle said the class will be developed significantly to take to council later this semester so it can be included in the catalog for the spring semester.
She said one of the biggest changes has to do with the connection to Pursuit, the Quality Enhancement Plan on information, literacy and research. The QEP is part of the university’s requirement to enhance the students learning experiences.
Dr. Phyllis Bolin, director of Pursuit, said they needed to plan an initiative that would benefit students, so a committee decided the topic would be “Research Literacy.”
“We developed that topic into various components that will enhance a students ability to do research, then try to find ways to fund research activities for students with faculty and fund students opportunities to go and present their research at conferences,” Bolin said.
Dr. Bolin said because Core was coming out about the same time as Pursuit was being developed, they tried to house parts of Pursuit within the Core.
“We felt like we wanted to reach out to all students, instead of just a select few. So we started with looking at things in Cornerstone, and then kind of built from there,” Dr. Bolin said, “There are pieces of our initiative within each Cornerstone class, and within Core 210 and the new BCOR class we will end up having ways for students to work at learning research skills.”