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Gen ed revision proposal pushed back to fall semester

COM 103, MUS 109, MTH 101, ECO 100 and ENG 101 may see a makeover in coming years.

The Steering Committee, one of seven sub-committees of Bradley’s General Education Program Review, is revising changes to the current general education program. The original deadline for the proposal was spring, but is now delayed until fall 2014.

“We want to review our programs regularly to ensure that we are providing the best and most relevant educational experiences for our students” said committee co-chair Kelly McConnaughay.

McConnaughay said the 36 credit hours of gen ed classes comprise more than one-fourth of students’ 124 hours required to graduate.

The purpose of Bradley’s review and revision of the current General Education Program is to maximize those gen ed hours to best equip students with a well-rounded education. The revisions aim to make them more prepared and more marketable in the working world, McConnaughay said.

In the summer of 2012, a small group of faculty and staff began preparations for a revision of the gen ed course requirements. In August 2012, the university officially announced the plan to review and revise.

Since that fall, Bradley’s faculty, staff, students, various alumni, the Parents’ Board and the Employer Board have been cooperating to evaluate the current system with plans to revise and strengthen it.

Participants were spread across seven committees and worked on changes that would be competitive with changing educational trends while still emphasizing those topics and studies that remain standard.

Significant changes presented in the current draft include the addition of Integrative Interdisciplinary Perspectives (IIP), or specific gen ed requirements, and a more central focus on intensive writing courses.

McConnaughay said these changes are due largely to feedback from employers working with the university who have stressed the growing importance of interdisciplinary problem solving, strong writing skills and collaborative teamwork.

Beyond IIP and writing intensive courses, McConnaughay said the pre-proposal recommends a reduction of general education categories from six required hours to three required hours, which is currently the case for categories such as scientific reasoning.

The extra hours allotted for general education courses would be an opportunity for students to register for other general education courses of their choice.

Due to the workload and attention to detail, the timeline for the submission of the general education package has been pushed back a semester from its prior goal.

“We anticipate submitting a proposal for a revised curriculum as early as early as fall 2014, and implementation of the new program to begin as early as fall 2015 with incoming freshman,” McConnaughay said. “

Committee co-chair Jennifer Gruening Burge and McConnaughay both said progress since November has shifted the focus from adding significant changes to working on stating the details of the changes more explicitly.

McConnaughay said this semester has been devoted to articulating what courses will look like within the “Areas of Inquiry,” or specific skill categories assembled by the committees such as Global Systems, Fine Arts or Human Values.

“That [Area of Inquiry] work was done by faculty from across campus who stepped up to join working groups to review draft recommendations of curricular elements for each Area of Inquiry,” McConnaughay said. “The rest of the semester will be devoted to working those recommendations into a revised draft model to share with the campus.”

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