The University Curriculum Council will vote today over the definition of a credit hour. The vote concerns how many credits a class would receive within a department. A class could receive more credits without changing the number of times a class meets.
There was a proposal last May to allow departments more flexibility in defining the credit hour. The UCC proposal was voted down in a 93 -82 vote.
“There was a proposal to redefine the credit hour in a more flexible way and it was defeated in May. It was replaced by a proposal that attempted to be a little bit more strict about what a credit hour really is,” said David Crockett, professor of political science.
The UCC allowed for the proposal to be resubmitted because the version that was passed last May had unclear language. Revisions will be in question at the meeting on Friday.
“That language has to be fixed – the question is, how do we fix it? I think one group would like a very flexible language and another group would like a somewhat more constrictive language,” said Glenn Kroeger, associate professor and department chair of geosciences.
If the proposal passes, there could be a variation in how departments define the credit hour. Some departments might have four-credit courses while others may have three-credit courses. The course load of a class could change, but the amount of time spent in class would not.
“Right now, at least, the proposal is to make it voluntary for departments. Some departments might say they are teaching four-credit courses, while other departments might say we are not going to do this. We are doing three credit courses,” Crockett said.
A mixed system will mean students will have to change the way they schedule their classes.
“As far as I can tell, students have been good about assembling courses of different sizes into a schedule that they are comfortable with. They might be taking one or two fewer classes while they were at Trinity, but on the other hand they might be spending more time thinking about and working on the classes they did take. I personally think that would probably be a good thing for students,” Kroeger said.
There are differing opinions about how beneficial a four-credit system would be for students and faculty.
According to Crockett, there could be an increased course load with a four-credit course system. It could also make it more difficult for students to double-major.
“There is a reduced amount of faculty face time in this system.The trade-off is more in-depth classes or a wider breadth of courses,” Crockett said. “If we go to a 4:4 course load, I guarantee you many departments will restructure their majors. Rather than taking ten or eleven courses for a major, you might take eight or nine.”
Faculty is divided on the issue of a four-credit course load versus the system we have now. “I have never seen an issue that has been so polarizing among faculty. Even though there are very, very strong feelings, we respect each other so much,” said Aaron Delwiche, assistant professor of communication.
Students have a wide variety of feelings on the possibility of having a four-credit system in some departments.
“Even though we would be taking less classes in total, you get more in-depth experience in the class. You get more of an in-depth understanding,” said Austin Haworth, a junior.
A student’s major and what classes they want to take affected their opinion on having a four-credit system.
“My personal opinion would be taking more classes would be better than taking fewer classes with more work. I think the ability to have more class options is better,” said Erin Cusenbary, a junior.
“I do think it is definitely beneficial, especially for those studying in the liberal arts. Whereas those on the technical side, I’m an engineering major, so I think it’s kind of tough. It’s definitely complicated because we have so many credits,” said Mikaela McDonald, a sophomore.