One down, nine more to go. The first semester of the experimental pilot curriculum has come to a close, student reviews so far have been mainly positive. The pilot curriculum was first offered to incoming freshmen in the fall of 2000 and will be tested out until 2004. Currently, 200 students are enrolled in the program, which significantly cuts down the number of general requirements and places an emphasis on broader, more interdisciplinary courses. Some of the concepts that are being tested in the program include a team-teaching format and four general categories instead of the 10 sectors of the General Requirement. "I think the structure is pretty cool," pilot student Laura Dolan said. "All three subjects that were taught in my class were things that I would never have taken." Dolan and 38 other students took a class called "The Self Portrait" -- a seminar covering Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Art History and Germanic Languages that was taught by three professors, each with a different field of expertise. "[The professors] fed off each other well," Dolan added. "They knew enough about the other two subjects to incorporate them into the class." However, not all pilot students were as pleased with the three-subject format. "I thought it was a little bit unbalanced," said Michael Biondi, who took a course entitled Cognitive Neuroscience. "There were two really good and cohesive sections, but I thought it was almost like stopping mid-term and taking a separate course." Cognitive Neuroscience was taught by professors from the Law, Philosophy and Psychology departments. "I think the fact that there's three professors is a good and bad thing," Biondi said. "You get three different perspectives, but it's so hard to follow three different trains of thought in one semester." The pilot curriculum was developed by the Committee on Undergraduate Education (CUE) with the intention of giving students a chance to focus on their particular interests and exposing them to fields that are not ordinarily covered in the traditional curriculum. The new approach also gives students more time to explore undergraduate. The experiment will be evaluated in the spring of 2004, and if it is deemed successful, the pilot curriculum may be implemented for all incoming freshmen in the fall of 2005. Biondi says that the less-structured curriculum appealed to him because he wasn't sure what his interests were. "I liked the fact that there were only four required courses," Biondi said. "I felt it left my options open to try other things." Dan Landsburg enrolled in the experimental program to broaden his horizons. "It seemed like a new opportunity," Landsburg said. "It gave me a look at courses that I would probably never take." Landsburg said he was pleased with the change of pace that the class provided. "It was a little more abstract than the other classes I took," he said. "The subject matter isn't easy to integrate, but [the professors] worked to help each other." Alexis Brine was pleased with the smaller, more casual class structure. "I really liked that it was small," Brine said. "We even had discussions in the lectures." "I felt a lot closer to all of the students in the class," Dolan added. "Discussions were more informal. No one was trying to impress anyone."Comments powered by Disqus
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