Students speak out at forum

By Amanda Hunt

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Students had an opportunity to tell UA administrators what they think about core curriculum Wednesday night.

The College of Arts and Sciences Student Advisory Council has organized a series of forums for students to discuss the core curriculum proposal with administrators. Wednesday's forum, the first, was held in Coronado Residence Hall.

About 15 students attended the forum, along with five panelists, to discuss the proposal that could go into effect as soon as 1998. Michael Gottfredson, vice provost of undergraduate education, outlined the proposal and said it is a "bold vision" for the University of Arizona. If the proposal is adopted, the administration would "scrap the current general education program and replace it with a two-tier program," Gottfredson said.

"We need to open up the lines of communication between students and faculty," said Jean Abraham, president of the council. She said the forums create an uncommon opportunity for students to express their opinions to administration and faculty.

By holding the forums in residence halls, the environment for an open discussion is more "comfortable and convenient" for students, Abraham said.

Under the core curriculum proposal, students in every college would take 30 units of classes fulfilling the requirements of two levels of general education. The first tier would consist of 18 units in general science, individuals and societies, traditions and cultures, and one composition course. The second tier would follow with 12 units from those areas and another composition course. Students would end up taking two courses from each area, except their major course of study.

"It's important that we as students entering the job market have a strong general education background," said T.J. Trujillo, ASUA president. "We need to take a hard look at general education."

Eugene Levy, dean of the faculty of science, summarized discussions that have taken place about the general science classes. He said the main focus of the dis- mid

cussions concerned how to teach such broad-based classes.

As most general education requirements for science are arranged now, students normally end up taking introductory classes intended for science majors, Levy said. This method confuses introducing a subject with the "terminal experience" of studying that subject, he said.

There was some concern that by generalizing a subject students would come out learning nothing from a "watered down" summary of the subject. "The intention (of the core curriculum) is the opposite of watering-down," Levy said.

Gottfredson said the core curriculum would help streamline general education throughout the university and make it easier to change majors. "There shouldn't be such a penalty if you change your mind," he said.

Council member Kim Luttgens, an English and communications sophomore, questioned the proposal to drop the current introductory English classes and replace them with composition classes. Students in the composition classes would be writing more about their area of study.

Luttgens said the composition classes would provide "too loose of a writing situation" and the main purpose of the introductory English classes is to "try something new."

Gottfredson said that when students "write about what they're interested in," the learning is "more effective."

Students also raised concerns that with large general education classes more teaching assistants would be needed, which they feel are not always effective.

"It's not that (teaching assistants) can't teach, they just haven't been properly trained," Trujillo said.

Gottfredson said teaching assistant training is one of the goals of the core proposal.

Levy said Columbia University has adopted a similar general education program, and Gottfredson said the University of California at Irvine has a similar program in humanities.

Gottfredson said that other universities are observing what the UA is doing and added that "nearly every place is doing something like this."

The panelists and students agreed that the forum was successful and that forums should be held more often concerning policy-making decisions. The final decision about the core curriculum proposal will be made by the UA Faculty Senate at a later date, yet to be determined.

The next forum will take place in Yuma Residence Hall Wednesday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The final forum is scheduled to be held in Apache-Santa Cruz Residence Hall April 5 at the same times.

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