General education may soon see changes

Jaimie Luse

Washburn may be seeing a makeover in some of its main general education and core class requirements.

According to the recently-adopted general education proposal that came from the academic affairs committee and was approved by general faculty, a core course is defined as a course taken by all or, virtually all students that emphasizes a set of skills that exemplify a set of basic University values.  

“The academic affairs committee is reexamining general education goals and trying to figure out how to better meet the needs of students,” said Kathy Menzie, chair of the academic affairs committee.

Through meetings and surveys the committee is trying to decide what should be in the core.

In the past, core classes and general education classes needed to incorporate nine general education skills. However, those nine skills have been replaced by five learning outcomes.

The learning outcomes are communication, quantitative and scientific reasoning and literacy, information literacy and technology, critical and creative thinking and also global citizenship, ethics and diversity.

The general faculty determined that general education classes should incorporate at least one to two of the learning outcomes.

“We’ve done a number of meetings with faculty,” said Menzie.  “We’ve done several surveys, too, and what we have discovered is that people think that all of our general education classes should have the learning outcomes, we are pretty much agreed on that. And the core classes should also have learning outcomes.”

The primary issue that remains is which classes should be in the core. The faculty are not replacing the core, just reexamining it and trying to figure out what should be in it.

The current core classes are: freshman composition, advanced composition, lifetime wellness and either algebra or exploring mathematics.

The committee has not decided yet how many hours should be in the core.

“We are limited on hours because a number of the degrees already have quite a few hours and adding more hours to the core would make it very difficult for some degrees,” said Menzie.

The number of hours is only one of many factors that have to be considered. For some departments, not having enough faculty to teach classes that might become a part of the core is a concern.

There is also the issue of classroom space and whether there would be enough classrooms for every student on campus to take the class.

With the issue of how to implement the new guidelines for core classes still under consideration, the issue is still being assessed.

“We’re still discussing it and I anticipate that there will be a couple more discussions on the core,” said Menzie “The next step is sort of up to the academic affairs committee and we are meeting at the end of February so we will be looking then at what our next step is.”