Updates on core education requirements aim to make process less confusing during registration
The university is changing its general education requirements after warnings from the university accreditors and the passing of House Bill 2998. They aim to make the process less confusing for students.
Senate president Chris Sinclair presented updates to the new general education requirements to the University Senate at its meeting Wednesday evening.
Changes include defining learning outcomes to better align with the University of Oregon mission statement and streamlining group satisfying requirements. This is hoped to make choosing classes less confusing for students.
The current requirement for the arts and letters requirement, for example, requires students to take a specific number of classes in different subjects within that field. According to Sinclair, the current requirement is confusing for students.
“You have to pay attention when you’re registering for courses to ensure that when you are registering you actually satisfy that requirement,” Sinclair said.
The new requirement will require students to take classes within two different subjects instead, and ultimately be less confusing for students, according to Sinclair.
Sinclair initially presented proposed changes to general education to the Senate on Jan. 17 alongside Ron Bramhall, Professor and Associate Vice Provost for Academic Excellence. They outlined the plans for general education in the coming years, now called core education.
The Senate is working to create a core education committee to facilitate these changes and implement them by the end of the academic year. The soonest changes to be made include defining learning outcomes and streamlining certain group satisfying requirements.
At the next senate meeting on March 14, Sinclair will present a motion to the Senate on the learning outcomes that will be voted on later in the year.
Sinclair invited the Senate and members of the community to attend a “Living Ethically” event next Thursday, March 8. This event is intended to address a specific aspect of the university mission statement that aims to teach students to live ethically.
At the event, ethics professors will lead discussions about how to incorporate ethics into several disciplines across the UO curriculum and better define it in the learning outcomes.
The university accreditors have issued three warnings to the university to redesign the general education requirements to better align with the university mission statement.
Sinclair stated that the accreditors warnings were a small part of why the Senate took action to address these issues.
“The motivation for this is more for student success and student focus and less because the accreditors want us to check these boxes,” Sinclair said.
The state of Oregon passed House Bill 2998 in August of 2017 to expedite transfers between colleges and universities within the state. This requires the university to offer classes that work in conjunction with the other universities within the state of Oregon that are able to be transferred across institutions.
The university senate took this into consideration when updating the core education requirements, according to Sinclair.
The Senate will discuss further changes to core education after foundational changes, such as defining the learning outcomes, have been made.
Sinclair said after the accreditors are satisfied and the courses comply with House Bill 2998, the university can add innovative and unique aspects to the UO core education experience.
According to Sinclair, the Senate will discuss changes in the BA and BS requirements in the 2019 academic year, and later on, create themed clusters of classes similar to Freshman Interest Groups and Academic Residential Communities for students.
“We have an ambitious time frame for what we want to do, but we are hopeful we can do it,” Sinclair said.
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