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UI revamps gen ed program

BY ALISON SULLIVAN | FEBRUARY 01, 2011 7:10 AM

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Instead of searching through a laundry list of requirements this fall, incoming undergraduates will see a more orderly display of what they need to graduate from the University of Iowa.

The UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will unveil a reorganized general-education program in an effort to better communicate graduation requirements to incoming students.

“It will make the requirements easier to understand,” said Helena Dettmer, an associate dean of liberal arts.

The current requirements — which include rhetoric, humanities, natural science, distributed general education, and five other electives — will all still be a part of the reorganized program, just grouped differently, she said.

Students transferring credits to the UI will be better able to see what required category their credits will count toward.

In recent years, the UI has made a push to make transferring to the university more available through such programs as Transfer in Iowa and the 2 Plus 2 program. The programs give students options to start at local community colleges while transferring later on, status and credits intact.

The change comes after former UI Provost Michael Hogan gave Dettmer, along with other faculty, staff, and students at the university, the task to reorganize course requirements in the liberal-arts school as part of a 10-year review.

One of the biggest issues administrators faced, said Beth Ingram, the associate provost for undergraduate education, was maintaining good communication between the local community colleges to ensure the general-education requirements would transfer to the UI.

After UI officials administered a student survey, they received feedback from students who mentioned the confusing format of the requirements. But now, Pat Folsom, the associate provost for enrollment and management, said the new program has been “put in a language that speaks to students.”

“The responses were very heartening,” Folsom said. “Both faculty and students felt the [general education] program wasn’t cohesive.”

The committee’s result is a grouping of all the courses into three main categories, a shift from what committee members called a “lengthy checklist.”

The three categories are communication and literacy, natural, mathematical, and social science, and culture, society, and the arts.

The committee has had the new program ready for the past three years, and it has been approved by the Educational Policy Committee, the Faculty Assembly, and the provost.

The change won’t cost the UI anything, officials said.

Folsom said the new format creates a new visual display of the breadth of the program to better prepare students for post-gradutation jobs.

Despite the new format, no course was added or dropped, Dettmer said.

“At the end of the day, what liberal arts ended up with is a nice … coherent program for its students,” Ingram said.


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