Classes hinder students
March 23, 2007
UW-River Falls emphasizes offering a well-rounded education by having a detailed general program as well as by requiring a major, minor and liberal education before one can graduate.
Obliging students to take many courses in general and liberal education, along with requiring a minor helps to create the well-rounded graduate. However, when it is mandatory for a student to take courses in different disciplines, sometimes we are unwillingly unprepared.
A student with an international studies minor, for example is required to take a course in agriculture economics. Even though there is no prerequisite for the course, the student is thrown into an upper-level class without knowing anything about agriculture. When this happens, it starts students at a lower vantage point and sets them up for failure and frustration.
Instances like this happen throughout the University with liberal and general education and minor requirements. All seniors are required to take a capstone course.
Advisors place their students in a capstone outside their field of study. The purpose of the class is to discuss topics that were studied throughout the previous years of general requirements at a more in-depth level.
The problem with the capstone course is that not all students take the same requirements for the general education categories. One student may take a film history class for the multidisciplinary section, whereas another could take a class about Europe. Both courses complete the requirement, yet each student learns something completely different.
How would both of these students be able to actively enjoy a class that encompasses what they learned in their general education courses? Every student’s education is different.
Classes that strongly encourage students from all disciplines to attend should also cater to the many different majors that will then be represented in the classroom. Though a professor may be a master of his/her topic, the course should be taught keeping in mind that not all students have been required to take beginning level courses in the field.
Not only is it frustrating for a student to sit through a class that sounds as though it is being taught in a foreign language, but it is also annoying for those students who is able to follow along, but is slowed down by others needing clarification. It puts every student in a difficult position.
The idea of creating a well-rounded student is a great goal to strive for, but some of the kinks in the system need to be worked out. Maybe instead of the agriculture economics course, international studies should have a similar course taught by their own department. This way, the course would cater to the students required to take it.
As for capstone, the class is history anyway; maybe enough students expressed our exact same frustrations.