Curriculum changes to enhance opportunities

by Kelsey KnutsonStaff Writer

Simpson College is continuing work to make changes in the curriculum to offer students a more in-depth look into areas of study.

For over a year now, students and faculty have been working together to provide students with superior educational opportunities.

The Learning Programs Working Group (LPWG), which is made up of administrators and faculty, worked with student representatives to provide the best options for students.

When the changes were first presented last year, they were met with strong opposition from many students. Since receiving student input, the group has spent more time redrafting the proposal.

One of those students was junior representative, Bailey Harris.

“It’s important for people to know that these professors have put a lot of work into this with their students’ best interests at heart,” Harris said. “They’ll put it to the faculty who will have their own concerns before it’s voted on.”

The main component of the future curriculum changes, if passed in a vote by faculty as early as this April, would be changes in the cornerstone requirements and what will be called “embedded skills.”

Eight areas of study would be replacing the eight cornerstones. These courses, however, will give students a more in-depth look into the area of study and provide experience with hands-on learning.

According to Steve Griffith, vice president and dean of academic affairs, this is just what the students need.

“Hands-on learning is deeper learning,” Griffith said.

The courses replacing the cornerstones will be organized more around an idea rather than a specific area of study, such as a historical perspective, global awareness or ethics and moral reasoning.

The skills that will be embedded in the courses include written communication, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, information literacy, oral communication and collaborative leadership experiences.

By reducing the number of credits it takes to graduate, students will have to take four courses a semester instead of five. Students would have fewer classes to have more time with each course.

There has also been a proposal for students to be required to take only two May terms instead of the original four. Also, there would be more cornerstone studies offered during May term than there are currently.

With the new curriculum, May term would be enhanced with more opportunities for hands-on experience, studying abroad and independent study and research.

These new courses will help students understand why they are taking a course, allow them to relate to an area of study, and show them why subjects are important.

Griffith believes that helping students see the connection of why subjects are interesting will help them become engaged citizens, which is something Simpson hopes to see.

“The new curriculum will help students become good citizens when they leave Simpson College,” Griffith said.

The purpose is to provide a challenge for students.

Overall there has been a lot of support for the new ideas. Dozens of people have been involved in the process and many faculty members have taken part on the committee.

According to Griffith, many things are still on the table and many questions have been asked.

“I’m in support of the new curriculum, but a little bit skeptical,” Kyle Liske, Student Government president, said. “We had concerns because there was a lack of understanding.”

Liske thinks the curriculum changes can be positive for students.

“It’s time to review the cornerstone program,” Liske said. “This seems to be fantastic and on the cutting edge.”

If passed by the faculty, the new curriculum would be grandfathered in as new classes of students arrive.

Griffith feels the curriculum changes will be positive and will attract more students.

“It’s distinctive, more clear and more current,” Griffith said. “I think it’s going to be exciting.”