Monday, June 05, 2017
The Sampler Platter
But this idea is completely different; it allows students to try out a wide variety of disciplines at a much smaller opportunity cost. I would be happy to team-teach a course like the one you've outlined. It's hard to think of a more interesting problem than introducing students to all the good and bad of biology in just two weeks.
The only downside I see is transfer. It definitely won't transfer at first, and it probably won't transfer ever. But the reason we're concerned about transfer is wasted credits. If you can save students more credits in the long run by helping them find their path it will be a net positive.
I look at this as something that should be data driven. What I know is more a collection of advising anecdotes than data, but what I see isn't very fine grained. You should already be collecting information about planned major or interest area at orientation; that should guide this project.
I also look at it as something that has to be scalable, and I don't see how your idea will work at scale. We may have a hundred freshmen who want to be nurses, but hundreds are interested in everything from social work to criminal justice. Our study skills with career info course is almost entirely taught by adjuncts. Heck, I'm sure our social science classes are half taught by adjuncts. How to shed some of that load to free them up for this? Doesn't seem possible.
Might also need one for business, that tells them about a social science like economics that is closely related to business.
I can't be certain, but my guess is that none of these would not require a different instructor for each "field". If this is a 101 course suitable for freshmen with no prior knowledge of the respective domains, it's hard to imagine that any competent and sufficiently engaged social scientist couldn't teach it, as long as they had access to colleagues in the respective fields who could help with the design of the course. That is, designing the curriculum would require multiple experts, but teaching it probably wouldn't. One challenge would involve instructional materials. There are not going to be suitable textbooks, open or otherwise, for such a course, and academic articles will be too technical for the audience. It's possible that the resources would have to be written specifically for the the class, which may be a significant barrier.
The issue of transfer could be sticky, but this course could serve as social science credits for, say, a math major or a literature major. That is, in addition to being a course to help students find their interests, it could also be a great way to help students in other areas satisfy breadth requirements.
Around Easter they all went off with their folios to apply for places on specific degree courses. Those who didn't get a place at this first go stayed on into the Summer, working on their folios and applying to other colleges.
It was all very successful.
And if, by chance, the student has an eventual goal of grad school, well the dirty secret of many grad programs in the social sciences and humanities is that they don't care overmuch what your BA was in, as long as you have one. They're more interested in your ability to handle stats and/or language.
I think it's fine to program a course such as you describe, but it should be a broad gen ed option. I don't think it will have a pathways effect like you would see in professional degree programs.