Changes coming to Gen Eds

By Kristina Aiad-Toss, News Editor

New general education requirements will come into effect at The University of Akron for incoming freshmen starting in the fall 2017 semester.

The process began in 2011 when a General Education Revision Steering Committee began revisions. Their program was finalized in April 2014.

The committee consisted of representatives from the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering, Summit College, Wayne College, University Libraries, the College of Health Professions,  Undergraduate Student Government, and the Board of Trustees.

According to the committee’s final report, the program was revised to add general education classes into specific majors, to give students more options, and to make greater use of minors, certificates, and experiential learning.

In addition, the revisions will make UA’s program “consistent with Higher Learning Commission’s (HLC) expectations.” UA is currently under review by HLC, which is a regional body that grants federal accreditation to higher learning institutions.

Instead of 42 credits, the program will require completion of 34 credits. The general education requirements are divided into three categories: academic foundation, disciplinary areas, and courses tagged with learning outcomes.

Academic foundation courses will teach students “broad skills,” including six credits of writing, three credits of speaking, and three credits of quantitative reasoning.

Disciplinary areas will comprise the remaining 22 credits, with courses in natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and arts.

The third category, called “tagged courses,” will includes classes on critical thinking, complex reasoning, diversity, and responsible citizenship.

The general education requirements will also encourage students to complete “a capstone experience… as the culmination of the educational process,” said the report.

Currently, the four committees created by the Faculty Senate are in the process of reviewing current UA courses and determining if they meet the learning outcomes.

Some current classes will be revised and new classes may be created to better meet the requirements, according to Linda Saliga, mathematics professor and chair of the revision committee. All general education decisions made about a course must be approved by UA’s Faculty Senate.

The new changes will not affect students enrolled in the honors program or associate programs.

“The new curriculum is not just a stand-alone hurdle that students have to get over,” said Saliga. “We want the program to be integrated into the majors more, so it is seen as useful and brought into the full education of the student.”