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Originally published: 2012-11-15 17:38:40
Last modified: 2012-11-15 17:38:40

ASU faculty endorse current science credit requirements

by Anna Oakes

The Appalachian State University Faculty Senate on Nov. 12 recommended maintaining the university's current core curriculum requirement of eight science credit hours, rejecting a committee's proposal to reduce the requirement to seven or eight hours.

Introductory science courses, along with their corresponding lab classes, are counted as four credit hours at ASU, but many other four-year institutions count similar courses as three credit hours.

ASU advisors said transfer students often come to ASU with three or seven science credit hours, and to satisfy ASU's requirement, additional four-hour science courses end up putting them over the eight-hour requirement.

"The scientists have addressed this problem by committing to offer a one-hour credit lab course suitable for transfer students," a report from the Faculty Senate Academic Policies Committee stated.

Likewise, the Senate also voted to recommend the current four-hour quantitative literacy (math) requirement, as math faculty also committed to offer a one-hour course.

ASU is currently working to revise the General Education curriculum, and among the objectives are easing the transition for transfer students, providing greater flexibility to students and simplifying the process for advisors.

The Faculty Senate was asked in September to weigh in on proposed changes drafted by the General Education Advisory Group, which was appointed by Provost Lori Gonzalez in December 2011 following campus surveys and a task force report. The Senate delayed a vote on recommendations until November to allow more time for review and faculty input.

Several other committees and administrative bodies at ASU will review and make recommendations on the proposed changes before approval.

First Year Seminar debated

The Senate also launched into a spirited debate over recommendations regarding ASU's First Year Seminar program.

The First Year Seminar course, required for freshmen and transfers with fewer than 30 credit hours, introduces new students to the rigors of university study and life through interdisciplinary engagement with a variety of disciplines and perspectives.

While approximately a quarter of the First Year Seminar sections are taught by tenured and tenure-track faculty, most sections are taught by non-tenure-track instructors.

In its list of proposals, the General Education Advisory Group made several recommendations focused on encouraging more tenured or tenure-track faculty to teach First Year Seminar sections.

For its part, the Faculty Senate Academic Policies Committee put forth a recommendation that the First Year Seminar program be decentralized -- moved from University College to become a part of each department on campus. The committee surmised that all sections could be covered if each department committed to teaching at least one section, with some of the smallest departments being recused and larger departments picking up two or three sections.

But senators said their departments could not afford to spare tenured and tenure-track faculty to teach First Year Seminar.

"We don't have more resources to devote to something like this," said Stella Anderson, vice chairwoman of the Senate. "We can't give them up. We can't hire someone off of King Street to teach 3000- and 4000-level classes."

Senators agreed that the funding model for First Year Seminar needs to be simplified. The senators did not approve either of the recommendations discussed regarding First Year Seminar.