Physical Activities Courses kicked out of UI gen ed program


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Fitness walking, self-defense, and badminton are all getting the boot.

Beginning this summer, physical-activities courses will no longer count toward the semester hours students need to fulfill general-education requirements. In the past students, could take the courses to fulfill the requirement of Values, Society, and Diversity.

Students who entered the University of Iowa before the summer of 2011 often used the courses as part of the Health and Physical Activities category in the old general-education program.

“If the students [are] looking for a job, unless they’re involved in sports in some way, really what will help students when they go into the work place is a course on multiculturalism,” said Helena Dettmer, an associate dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Dettmer said the Education Policy Committee for the liberal-arts school recommended the change in order to encourage students to take classes that will expose them to different cultures to fulfill the general-education requirement.

“We’re really becoming very global,” she said. “We think students should be aware of differences in culture.”

There are 1,462 students enrolled in physical activities courses this semester, and 334 of them are students in their college of study that already do not allow them to use the courses for general education requirements. 

Lisa Ingram, assistant provost for enrollment management and director of the Academic Advising Center, said there is no way to know for sure how many students actually take the courses to fulfill the requirement.

“I would guess half the students who take physical-activities courses are only taking them for elective credit,” she said.

Associate Provost Beth Ingram said she doesn’t anticipate it will affect enrollment.

“I believe there were some students who were using them to fulfill the requirement but not as many as you might expect,” she said.

Some students agree that taking these courses out of the general-education program does not dampen their interest in the courses.

UI freshman Salena Ortega, who is taking basic self-defense, she said she enjoys the class regardless of what the credits count towards.

“I think as an elective it still has value,” she said. “I don’t think it really needs to be a general-education course.”

Ortega’s course will still count toward her general-education requirement because the change doesn’t take effect until summer. Before the end of the next fall semester, students can still take these courses to fulfill the general education requirement, but they would have to apply for an appeal. After the fall of 2013 the window for appeals will end.

“Our concern was students who are in the process of completing the general-education requirement this way,” Lisa Ingram said.

She said the appeal was created to give students time to adjust to the change.

UI freshman Connor Frischmeyer said he plans to take a scuba-diving course next year and while he is not discouraged by the change, he thinks more students will be than UI officials expect.

“[I’m taking a scuba-diving course] just because that’s something I want to learn how to do anyway,” he said. “People are still going to take the course but not as many.”

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