Professor defends 'common core'


I enjoyed speaking to your reporter after the faculty meeting on Aug. 29. I was a bit surprised that he chose to take one fragment of one sentence out of our conversation and use that as a quote. Please permit me to set the record straight on my views on the common core.

I was quoted as saying that the common freshman core "would" delay graduation for engineering students. Actually, I said that the core "could" delay students if the courses (science course mainly) were not at the appropriate level required for engineering and mines students.

Personally, I am in favor of any ideas that will enhance undergraduate education and I believe that a common core can be designed to accomodate ALL programs, regardless of college affiliation. In the College of Engineering and Mines, we have designed a common freshman course, Engineering 102, that all students take regardless of their specific major. The course has evolved over the past five years to be an effective hands-on learning experience . This semester we are running 11 sections of approximately 43 students each, using a "mostly common" syllabus (common design projects and topic schedule, different method of presentation and weekly homework assignments). Seven faculty members, two deans, one retired dean, and one adjunct professor make up our faculty team. We also have 30 hours per week of TA's and 50 hours per week of graders on the team. All lecture materials is presented by faculty and the students meet in groups of four or five with a faculty member at least three times during the semester. The course has its own computer lab that was funded through the College, the University Computers Grant Program and private industry.

In closing, I would like to again state that I am in favor of common core since I believe that it would provide students with a better educational experience. Care must be taken in designing the specifics, but the task is not impossible. The complaints I heard in the faculty meeting were some of the same complaints I heard when the initial ideas for Engineering 102 were proposed. It took time, but we have designed a course that the students feel is worthwhile and a core group of faculty enjoy teaching.

Jeff Goldberg

Associate Professor of Systems and

Industrial Engineering

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