The Moon Room

A Community Forum on Guilford College Faculty Life

Adapting our Gen Ed to the proposed Q major

February 1st, 2018

Frank put up a slide at yesterday’s faculty meeting comparing the credit hours in the current curriculum to an implementation of the 12/3 plus the Q major as has been described in recent discussions. I had a chance to look over the numbers, and I found a couple of what seem like minor calculation glitches (or maybe just different assumptions) along with a larger quantitative problem. I shared this with Clerk’s Committee today, but I thought the rest of you might be interested. Here’s the diagram with some edited numbers:

The edits are as follows:

  • The critical perspectives are sometimes taken as double-counts, and sometimes as separate courses, so they should be included as 0-12 credits. They weren’t included in the totals before.
  • The center column in each contains 5 breadth, 3 writing, and a language, and a 1-credit FYE, for a total of 37 credits. Technically, English 101 isn’t a required course, although in practice most folks take it. So, we can set a lower bound of 33 credits. Obviously some students pass out of these requirements with test scores or AP, but for a regular student without special credit, it’s at least 33 credits. The current Gen Ed also has FYS and IDS 400 within that list, which adds 8 more, and there is also the possibility that a student would need to take the 2-credit Quantitative Lit class, although not every student does. That puts the range for the current Gen Ed at 41-47, and for the Q-major plan (which borrows the FYS and IDS for the Q-major part) at 33-39, rather than the ranges shown. Some students take a 4-credit class for Quant Lit, which would add an extra two credits to the total, and may be what the original list included.
  • Currently, we have a required minor. In practice, we have created some minors that include some or all of the courses required for the larger majors. The Integrated Science minor is specifically designed for this purpose, and can include the cognate sciences that are required for B.S. degrees in biology and geology. The Accounting minor and ENVS minors overlap in part with other majors, as well, and there are likely other examples. So, some students do a lot of double-counting and don’t need any additional courses to get a minor, and some take a full set of four (or more) that are all unique to the minor and not double-counted. So, rather than a flat 16 credits, the range here should be more like 0-16.

Looked at in this light, we have a pretty big disconnect in credits (and the accompanying number of courses) if we implement a full 8-course Q major. The current curriculum requires 41-75 credits, or roughly 10-19 courses. The eight-course Q major model requires 65-83 credits, or roughly 16-21 courses, or 2-6 more.

Of course, one of the Breadth requirements can often count towards a major (although not all do, and not all students take them this way). So, that might reduce the higher end of the range by one for some students.

This increase is absolutely not workable at the high end, for students with more courses required for majors (e.g. 82 credits for a B.F.A, 60 credits for a B.S. in Geology, 56 credits for a B.S. in Business administration). 83 credits of Gen Ed is more than 2/3 of 120, the new target for graduation, and even for students who take an eight-course major, they’re barely squeaking by.

So, we’ll need to address this. One way is the way we have been doing, by allowing the Q major to double count with regular majors in the way that minors do now. However, to keep the course totals the same, we’d have to expect that students would double count four Q-major courses (which would likely be 4 of the 6 courses outside FYE and IDS) for either Gen Ed or their majors. That is very hard to reconcile with the Q-major being unique or structured, if it’s a hodgepodge of things that count for something else.

Another way would be to chop a bunch out of the non-Q major part of the Gen Ed. The easiest candidate for this is probably the five Breadth requirements, if we could somehow ensure that each Q major would include at least the components that SACS requires in Gen Ed (humanities/fine arts, social/behavioral sciences, and natural science/mathematics), or perhaps all five of our existing Breadth requirements.

If we were to cut the Breadth requirements from Gen Ed and house them in the Q major, we would be back at a more manageable 45-63 courses, which is comparable to the size of the current Gen Ed.

There are probably other ways to address this as well, such as a full Gen Ed revision (which we’d almost have to do anyway if we pursue the Q major). But we can’t not deal with it and just add things.

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The Moon Room

A Community Forum on Guilford College Faculty Life