Graduation requirements may see change

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

The outlook for incoming freshmen may include new Institutional Graduation Requirement goals, or required classes, in their curriculum.

“We wanted to take a look at where we stand next to other (South Dakota) Board of Regent schools in terms of IGR requirements,” said Dan Hansen, assistant dean for student services and adviser for the Students’ Association. “We wanted to decide whether we should increase, decrease or get rid of some of the requirements.”

Provost Laurie Nichols agreed, saying that the core curriculum needed to be “studied and compared with some of (SDSU’s) peer institutions.”

“Some of the other state schools do not have as many requirements, so we wanted to take that into consideration when making these changes,” said Hassan Ali, a freshman Students’ Association senator.

Hansen said this is a preliminary plan, and the task force is looking into various options. The task force is made up of some student representation, as well as one representative from each college.

“We really looked at the changes in some of the different departments’ curriculum and tried to see if changes needed to be looked at as far as IGR goals, as well,” said Nichols.

One goal of the possible changes is to implement more sustainability education.

“For the land and natural resources (IGR) goal one, it used to be mostly focused on the Ag and Bio College’s courses but we want to put a focus on sustainability,” said Hansen. “We hope to implement a course that teaches about sustainability and also create some flexibility in the different departments.”

Another change that the task force is considering includes the personal wellness goal.

“Currently a lot of freshmen take GS 143 (Mastering Lifetime Learning Skills), but we hope to implement a new course called something like the Freshmen Experience Course,” said Hansen. “The course would teach stress management, financial planning, wellness, as well as implementing the common read.”

The common read is a book that all incoming freshmen are required to study. Next year’s common read book will be Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. The book is described as one man’s mission to promote peace, one school at a time.

For IGR goal three, social responsibility/cultural and aesthetic awareness, the task force wants to change one of its focuses to career responsibility.

“We want to have a way for freshmen to explore different careProxy-Connection: keep-aliveCache-Control: max-age=0

s to help them decide what they want to do,” said Hansen. “We hope that they will tell you what makes each major different and help students make the right choice.”

Currently the IGR goals requires students to take between eight and nine credits but that may be dropped down to only six credits if the plan is finalized.

“The possible decrease in credit numbers would provide more flexibility for students and possibly more opportunities to take the electives that they want,” Nichols said.

Nichols said that they want the IGR goal changes to be a “campus-wide” effort, including many people on campus’s input.

“We really wanted to take a look at what learning outcomes we wanted,” said Hansen. “Before any decisions are made we will be presenting the preliminary plan to different campus groups like student senate, academic senate, as well as the various colleges and departments on campus.”

Hansen said that before any final decisions are made it would need to get the Board of Regents’ approval. The earliest it could be implemented would be fall 2011 and it would only affect incoming freshmen. Upperclassmen would continue to follow the plans that they are on.

“We also want to incorporate the new goals into students’ current majors’ plans,” said Hansen. “For example if a student already needs Bio 101 as a (major) requirement, we hope that they could take that as one of their IGR goal requirements so that it is beneficial to them and not just one more class that they have to take.

“That way they can take courses that focus on the topic that they need and they will get more out of it,” he said.

Hansen said improving the freshmen experience is one of the major goals behind this change.

“It is a way to help them transition from that high school state of mind to the college state of mind,” said Hansen. “It should also help them explore what they really want to do.”

Hansen went on to say that right now, sometimes students pick a major and then by the time they get through their sophomore year they “realize it isn’t really what they want to do.”

“We hope to have this be a way for them to pick the right major and save the time and money of starting a major that they may not really want,” Hansen said.

Ali said that one of the task force’s main goals was to have required classes that will help benefit students’ majors.

“We hope to kind of narrow down what options would best suit each major,” Ali said. “That way they can take classes that will help them with their later classes that go along with their major.”

Because the IGR goals have not been looked at in about seven years, the task force wants to make beneficial improvements.

“We don’t do this every year, so we want to make sure that we’re really comfortable with an IGR goal changes that we make and will use in the future,” said Nichols.