Multidisciplinary, capstone courses lacking
December 14, 2006
The effects of UW-River Falls’ switch from the old general education program to the new one were felt by many students during spring registration.
While some students were able to get into senior capstone and multidisciplinary courses with no problem, others found there to be little or no courses available when they were registering.
Sophomore Abby Hazard had no problem registering for a multidisciplinary course because she was able to register early.
“If I would have registered a few days later, I wouldn’t have gotten into the course I needed or the course that fit for me,” she said.
Junior Sarah Foster had a different experience.
“It was really hard because a lot of classes I wanted were at the same time as other classes,” sophomore Sarah Foster said. “I had to pick and choose classes that I didn’t necessarily want to take.”
Provost Charlie Hurt, the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, and General Education Committee Chair Ian Williams met to discuss the issue shortly after it arose.
The group added more seats to senior capstone courses and created temporary multidisciplinary courses to meet student demand.
“We underestimated how many students were on the old general education program,” said Brad Caskey, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Within one day, 100-150 senior capstone seats were added to courses.
“For the most part, that problem took care of itself,” Caskey said. “There are several senior capstone courses offered next summer and next fall.”
More multidisciplinary courses are also being offered next fall than necessary, however, the bigger problem now is trying to find permanent ones.
“We are trying to get as many courses out there to fulfill students’ needs and options,” Hurt said, adding that he hopes the now temporary multidisciplinary courses become permanent.
Yet because the new general education program is so new, many multidisciplinary courses have not been approved or developed for this category.
“The difficulty is there are very few classes approved for this category,” Caskey said.
“We need to either have people invent classes to fit or find existing classes,” Williams said. “Then we need to get them through the pipeline and make them [multidisciplinary] courses.”
After the courses are approved, Caskey said the University needs to make sure these courses are offered to students.
“Not all multidisciplinary courses were offered this semester,” he said. “We need to be better at tracking these courses and make sure they are offered.”
Multidisciplinary courses are being promoted to faculty members via financial incentives.
“There was no real incentive to teach multidisciplinary courses prior to this because they were not in high demand,” Caskey said.
If faculty members are given an incentive to teach these courses, students will have more multidisciplinary courses to choose from, he said.
Though students may be worried they will not be able to graduate in time as a result of this issue, Caskey said it won’t be a problem.
“There is no one who will not graduate on time because of a multidisciplinary course,” he said. “We will work it out if there is a problem.”
While not being able to register for senior capstone and multidisciplinary courses surprised many students, Caskey said he saw it coming.
“I am not surprised that we are caught in this bind,” he said. “Courses take a while to be developed.”