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UI to change rhetoric courses

BY JORDAN FRIES | NOVEMBER 04, 2009 7:20 AM

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Students who complain about the rigors of rhetoric may soon be quieted by changes UI officials are implementing.

The Dean Student Advisory Committee recently persuaded officials to begin offering only the semester-long rhetoric course next year. Students are currently placed in either the semester-long accelerated rhetoric or the yearlong basic rhetoric depending on their scores on the English sections of the ACT and AP English test.

The course will still be required for all UI freshmen.

Cory Nelson, a UI junior and president of the Dean Student Advisory Committee, said he believes there is too much inconsistency in the material taught in the university’s rhetoric classes because TAs are pulled in from various graduate programs. The rhetoric department doesn’t have a graduate school.

“A lot of students are complaining about a lack of standardization,” Nelson said. “One guy has to put in so many hours of work, while his roommate hardly has to open his book.”

Members of the Dean Student Advisory Committee used the concern when asking to modify the program. The committee meets with Linda Maxson, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Associate Dean Helena Dettmer once a month to discuss academic concerns revolving around class instruction and degree requirements.

UI freshman Emily Amonson supports the idea of phasing out the two-semester rhetoric course.

“I think that it’s a great idea to switch to one semester, because there is really no difference between regular and accelerated rhetoric,” she said. “The inconsistency is also frustrating.”

With the changes, officials will inform TAs of which classes they are scheduled to teach much sooner, allowing them more time to prepare.

Course descriptions on ISIS will also include which graduate school the TA is enrolled in, allowing students to choose courses taught by instructors well-versed in subjects that interest them. Most of the rhetoric TAs are graduate students in the Writers’ Workshop, Nelson said.

Under the revised program, the UI will hire fewer TAs to teach rhetoric next year, said Dennis Moore, the chairman of the rhetoric department. Officials are unsure how many fewer positions they will fill or how much the changes will save because they don’t have an approved hiring budget for next year, he said.

“The cuts in the budget for hiring new faculty members does create pressure for faculty to teach more classes, raise class size, or both,” Moore said.

Steve Kerrigan, a UI rhetoric TA, said he sees the increased workload as detrimental to both students and teachers, and he is concerned class sizes could increase.

“From a teacher’s perspective, I can say the workload of teaching two rhetoric classes is significant,” he said. “Adding students would result in more demands on instructors’ time in the form of correcting and personal communication with the students.”


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