Changing General Education Requirements

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 Ashley Gudmundson tries to decide what classes she must take for the upcoming semester. Photo by Olivia Bailey

Ashley Gudmundson tries to decide what classes she must take for the upcoming semester. Photo by Olivia Bailey

If you ask the average student on campus why they came to Snow College, odds are they’ll say something along the lines of “getting generals out of the way.” However, if the General Education Committee has their way, students will be more enthusiastic about generals.

General Education Committee member, Professor Melanie Jenkins, explained “We have what is called a cafeteria-style, where you just take one from this box, one from this box. But one of the things that’s happening nationwide is that schools are finding out that students don’t really understand the value of General Education. They don’t really appreciate their General Education courses because they’re just worried about filling boxes.” As Jenkins went on to explain, many other institutions in Utah, and across the country, are following suit in the movement to change their General Education programs to be more connective and integrated.

Professor David Allred said “We want general education to be more rewarding and interesting to students, and too often we hear students are trying to get their general education ‘out of the way.’ An integrated general education program would hopefully generate more student interest and hopefully students would do better that way.” He continued, saying “I taught a class on September 11th literature and I taught from an English perspective, but we had some film and sociology and physics all coming together to talk about 9/11, and there were days when whole new ideas came to your view that you never would have thought of before. I learned as much as the students did.”

As far as specific changes to be made, Jenkins commented “We haven’t solidified any particular changes.” She further explained that the committee is still in talks about the specifics of the actual changes. However, she talked about the general direction the discussion is going in, saying “The idea is that courses would be connected to each other in some fashion. That you would be able to see relationships between courses, between ideas, between ways of thinking, so that when you’re forced to solve a problem on your own, you can make connections between different ways of thinking.”

When asked what the ultimate goal of these changes was, Jenkins responded, “The real question driving this discussion is not ‘What do you need to know?’, but ‘What do you do with knowledge?’ How do you take all of the knowledge that’s available to you and sort through it and decide what’s useful and what’s not, and how do you use that information to solve problems? The real question driving this discussion is ‘how do we teach students to deal with the information that’s available to them?”

Both Allred and Jenkins explained that while endeavors are being made to make these changes to the program, it may not be until fall 2015, 2016, or even 2017 that any actual changes will be made.

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