EPCC Works on New Schedule Format

by Grant Rogers/Staff Writer

In the wake of last spring’s approval of the new engaged citizenship curriculum, many professors stress that the hard work has only just begun.

In order for a smooth transition to the new curriculum by 2012, each department now faces two tasks: Deciding which classes will receive the new area of engagement and embedded skills designation, and reconfiguring majors to fit into the new “10 plus one” class requirement formula.

“We’re in the middle of the heavy lifting,” Brian Steffen, department chair and professor of communication studies, said. “Departments are having to look at ways to condense their majors.”

With many changes coming as a result of the new curriculum, advocates of the change maintain that current students will feel few of the effects. For the next four years, cornerstone classes will keep a cornerstone designation with some of these courses designated as an area of embedded skills classes as well.

“If it comes down to something not working for students who are already here, then departments will find a way to make something work,” Murphy Waggoner, professor of mathematics and chair of the education policy and curriculum committee, said.

In addition to the “10 plus one” requirement formula, which sets a universal standard that earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in any major will only require 10 classes plus one senior capstone and changes the standard course credit from three to four, the Transition Team and EPCC have reviewed and updated many policies. A document available on the Simpson website shows how these changes will affect both faculty and students.

To accommodate the changes in curriculum, many faculty members also recognize the need for a change in schedule. A schedule proposed by Kedron Bardwell, assistant professor of political science, and passed by the EPCC awaits faculty approval at the Sept. 21 meeting.

While Bardwell’s schedule runs on the same schedule familiar to students, these classes will run 10 to 15 minutes longer. Professors will also gain the opportunity to teach a class that would meet four days a week, which benefits classes such as foreign language that emphasize daily practice.

“I think from the prospective of students, they’re not going to notice any kind of drastic change,” Bardwell said. “This will bring us in line with what other four credit offering institutions do with their schedules.”

While this change would bring Simpson in line with other institutions, faculty members still have concerns. In an open meeting held by the EPCC on Tuesday, Jackie Crawford, department chair and professor of education, voiced her objections to the new schedule’s one built-in faculty meeting time, which marks a change from the current schedule’s allowance of two.

“We have a very large department in terms of students and faculty, so we have to schedule every single course slot,” Crawford said. “If there’s only one meeting time, and that must be used for faculty meetings, EPCC meetings, first-year faculty orientation and teacher education, that leaves no time for our department to meet.”

While issues still exist, they’re in the process of being worked out. In the coming months and years, Simpson will continue to see the transition from one curriculum to another, and possibly from one schedule to another, unfold.

“Change takes work,” Waggoner said. “However, there’s a lot of excitement about the things that this curriculum can bring us.”