Faculty vote to give LPWG direction

The Education Policy Curriculum Committee called for a special faculty meeting last Wednesday to vote on various aspects of the Learning Programs Working Group’s proposals.

At the meeting, Dean Griffith, vice president and dean for academic affairs, said the votes serve as a directional guide for the LPWG and not as immediate changes in Simpson’s curriculum and academic structure. He also said the details of implementation are yet to be determined.

“There are important details that need to be addressed before any such plan can be approved,” Griffith said. “Is this the right direction? Do you agree with this direction?”

A majority of faculty supported the number of regular semester courses required for graduation for the Bachelor’s of Art degree should be 32 and the Bachelor’s of Music at 36.

While a majority of faculty supports May Term, 86 percent voted to decrease the number of required May Terms from four to two.

Another supported change in Simpson’s academic structure is to extend the one day break between the end of the spring semester and the start of May Term and place graduation before May Term.

The dialogue of the meeting exposed a variety of faculty opinions on the future of Simpson’s curriculum and its structure.

This is not the first time Simpson has discussed complete overhaul of its academic structure. During the ’60s, Simpson changed from its current credit system to a unit structure before referring back to the current, credit-based system. Bruce Haddox, former vice president and dean for academic affairs, was anassistant professor of philosophy and religion when Simpson switched back in the late ’70s.

“I believe we wanted more flexibility within departments,” Haddox said. “Also, I think it was because we wanted to be aligned with most schools in the country for transfer reasons.”

Kedron Bardwell, associate professor of political science, discusses how the previous shift is irrelevant compared to the current proposed structure change.

“So much has changed in higher education that it’s much more useful to look at schools today than to look back and see how Simpson did it 35 years ago,” Bardwell said. “The kinds of models have changed so much since then.”

Professor of Education Jackie Crawford understands the implications for Simpson if it does choose to change its current model of a three credit to one unit or four credit hour system. Crawford works regularly with education students transferring in endorsements as well as individual classes.

“We frequently make changes in our endorsement programs, as state requirements change on a regular basis, but we always include a transition period and students may opt to continue the current program or switch to the new program,” Crawford said.

Crawford notes that, while transitioning from the current system to a four semester system may create some obstacles for various departments, there are also numerous benefits.

“I believe that the most important consideration is lowering the number of courses that students take each semester,” Crawford said. “There are concerns for our department about changing from a three credit hour per course system, but that is not the most important consideration for me.”

Bardwell said a possible effect of changing the Cornerstone program may result if Simpson shifts from the current credit system to a one unit or four credits per course system.

“In some instances there are too many courses if competencies are not met to begin with,” Bardwell said. “In the end, if we decide this is feasible and will strengthen the program to provide a better delivery system, the current Cornerstone is too big.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, discussion boards containing three different models were set up in the BSC lounge. Students, faculty and administrators were given the opportunity to post their comments on each model.

The boards also presented ideas on six curriculum components involving programs such as Language Arts Seminar, Senior Colloquium, experiential learning and an all-college symposium.

Sophomore Kasey Peters posted comments on the discussion boards and noted the significance of giving remarks.

“It’s important to look at changes and have a voice since it’s not always heard, especially when it’s affecting students,” Peters said.

According to Bardwell, the results of Wednesday’s meeting and the discussion boards will help LPWG decide the next step in the ongoing proposed academic structure and curriculum changes.

“We’ll be sorting out what the vote meant and how we move forward with it, then, also picking up from where we left off in gathering feedback about curriculum proposals and trying to decide what the next step in the feedback process might be,” Bardwell said.