IGR classes to phase out of graduation requirements

By PAT BOWDEN Reporter

Students enrolling at South Dakota State this fall will no longer be required to take Institutional Graduation Requirements (IGR’s), which have been a staple part of the institution’s curriculum since 2000.

This change came from a Southg Dakota Board of Regents review of general education requirements that resulted in a redesign at the institutional level.

Initially, IGR’s were implemented to add system requirements unique to each SDBOR institution’s mission. The goals, which reflected the mission, were understanding roles as learning college students and becoming more aware of the world’s people. Under the review, SDBOR saw most schools had similar institutional missions and decided to remove them.

According to Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Mary Kay Helling, SDSU will now find new ways to put the “SDSU stamp” on its undergraduate students.

One IGR goal was the two-credit first year seminar course, which has been required for students to take during their first semester at SDSU since 2012. The other broad goal of the IGR requirement was to take three credits of cultural awareness and social and environmental responsibility.

This now-free five extra credits from the IGR’s will give colleges and majors more “flexibility” in terms of scheduling, according to Interim Provost Dennis Hedge.

“I believe the first year courses have been very valuable in a lot of ways and it’s been a large part that’s important to student success, but they will now simply exist as a major requirement or college requirement,” Hedge said.

While some colleges are keeping first year seminar, some are redesigning it into a one-credit course.

Others are getting rid of it entirely. The process of determining this for every major goes through a sub-committee of the academic affairs committee that was created to review changes such as these.

The committee is not completely eliminating first year seminar for certain majors, however, according to Helling. Those that are getting rid of the course are instead retaining the elements that help integrate students into SDSU through other means.

“Several of the programs decided to keep a first year seminar course, which was their prerogative … at least half of the programs, I’m guessing, decided to keep some kind of first year seminar experience,” Helling said. “The others may be trying to introduce those more informally, through student organizations, or through advising [programs or co-curricular events].”

Introducing these factors through other means has not proven easy for every college, according to Hedge, who believes this retention shows the school’s commitment to the student success model.

“The challenge for those that have opted out of a first year seminar course is to provide opportunities to get connected to the university … there’s a true commitment to student success, academic achievement, [and] student retention,” Hedge said. “[We are] working to ensure that critical components that are factors in student success are included in a co-curricular component.”

One college retaining its first year seminar course is the Honors College. The new course will be called Honors 119 and will mostly be the same as Honors 109, according to Interim Dean of the Honors College, Rebecca Bott-Knutson.

“I’m seeing what the demand is for the first year experience, part of it will be figuring that out and continuing to look for the best ways to serve the needs of our students and preparing them for future success; so it’s difficult to say if it will continue on indefinitely,” Bott-Knutson said.

She also said the primary goal of the redesign is to make sure students are still being integrated into the SDSU community properly, and that it will require a “little bit of creativity.”

The Common Read program will continue among incoming freshmen, but Hedge said “there are some elements that will still need to be figured out.”

Hedge believes this redesign will maintain a strong emphasis on student importance and will optimize student learning outcomes.

“The end result should be a consistently strong general education core across all colleges and majors,” Hedge said.