Tuesday, June 20, 2017
States or Departments?
My answer to your question: Florida.
Now there is a certain advantage to having a system in place for 50 years that goes back to a time when there were some four-year universities that did not have any freshman or sophomore students (e.g. FAU and FIU), but it has only been maintained by a fight that goes all the way to the legislature. Indeed, the latest round had the legislature mandate that everyone agree on a small set of courses that would be the only "state core" courses for general education in various areas, what those areas would be, how many credits total, and that everyone has to accept the others in transfer if the student has completed an AA. They even, I was told, cracked down on a particular bit of evasion like you might be describing.
Writ broadly, an institution must get approval to create a new course number, and its content cannot be a slight variant of an existing lower-division one that is being created merely to deny transfer credit. The details are not fixed (textbooks and even coverage of the main content is flexible up to a point) but the primary outcomes are fixed. A course is flexible enough that some institutions have two reaizations of the same course, achieving the same ends through different means. As you might guess, it is grading standards (both within and between institutions) that are the main variable.
The guiding principle is that you cannot have a curriculum where a course required to enter a major as a junior cannot be taken at a CC. Whether a CC has the student demand and faculty to teach it might be an open question, but it has to be allowed. You can have a curriculum where sophomores might be taking 300-level classes in the major, but only if they met all major requirements before doing so. You can't require that a 300-level class be taken before entering the major, putting a CC transfer in a Catch-22 situation. It is all about the prerequisites.
The other is that the state does not tolerate nonsense like one place teaching courses on XA and BZ and refusing to take courses on XB and ZA as the equivalent, but the system is so old that EVERYONE agrees on what belongs in Bio 1 and Bio 2 for majors, and then go on from there.
Pretty much anything goes for upper division classes.
The basic idea is that there are 10 'goals', a course in the trandpsfer curriculum must meet at least 51% of the sub-goals to count as a course with that goal. A course can have a primar goal and a secondary goal. All Minnesota State schools must accept the goal course as something other than an elective.
we're also starting a 2-4 year transfer pathway program where the disciplines have to agree on the courses and learning outcomes, and then accept the coursework transferred in. Our first transfer pathway degrees start in the Fall, and there will be around 20 total (maybe more later)..
As an example of some of the issues...
IV Tech wanted their intro marketing class to be on the list. It was open to any student and had no prerequisites. At my institution (and this would be true for all of the IU campuses), intro marketing had the following prerequisites:
Two semesters of intro econ
Intro to business
Two semesters of intro to accounting
One semester of business law
One semester of statistics
I think you can see how that created issues. That was the most extreme case I saw, but it was not an isolated case. As I recall, that was still being argued abut when I retired.
Your example showed me why it is so important that Florida ignores the title of the course being offered, controlling instead the number for that course. Because of that, the conflict described above cannot happen in our system.
My college offers a marketing course with a somewhat fancier title as a required course in one of its AS majors (2-year degree). That means it is probably a lot like the Ivy Tech course. Here is a snippet of what the state says about it: "Course Intent LOWER" That means it cannot be taught at the junior level. "Prerequisites THIS COURSE MAY, OR MAY NOT REQUIRE A" (sic) That is pretty neutral, but does mean a course that 'must' have a prerequisite cannot be taught under this number. In its description: "THE FOLLOWING MUST BE ADHERED TO: 1. THIS COURSE MAY BE A GENERAL EDUCATION COURSE REQUIRED TO EARN AN A.S. DEGREE. 2. THIS COURSE MAY BE AN INTRODUCTORY COURSE OPEN TO ALL STUDENTS. ..." I think you can see how this would conflict with the usual IU classs, which cannot be either of those.
In contrast, a course at a nearby university (and many others) with a similarly nondescript title has everything in your list plus Business Calculus as requirements to enter the major and be allowed to take it. Here the state says "Course Intent UPPER" That means a CC cannot teach it. Problem solved. "Prerequisites THIS COURSE REQUIRES A PREREQUISITE" So the Ivy Tech course you described (and the one my CC teaches) would not be allowed under that number. Ditto. Further description of the course makes clear it is not an introductory class. "THE CONCEPETS, (sic) TERMINOLOGY, METHODOLOGY AND STRUCTURES EXPLORED IN THIS COURSE SHOULD PROVIDE A BASIS ON WHICH TO BUILD FURTHER EXPERTISE IN THE STUDENT'S PARTICULAR FIELD OF STUDY. SPECIFIC COMPETENCIES DEVELOPED IN OTHER DISCIPLINES ARE DRAWN TOGETHER IN THIS COURSE AS STUDENTS CRITICALLY ANALYZE AND VIEW OF (sic) THE COMPREHENSIVE FIELD OF MARKETING." Nothing at a CC looks like that!
There is lots of bureacracy behind this, one that is badly in need of an editor, but with the result that there would be no need to waste the kind of time you folks wasted. Multiply these courses by the thousands, and you see the advantage you get with a 50 year head start. The two courses described above have been approved and in place at some schools for almost 30 years. Dig deeper in each of them and you see lots of room for flexibility at each institution but enough commonality that each course transfers freely between the more than twenty colleges (of different types) that teach each one.