Negativity dominated the University of West Florida’s faculty responses to the proposed changes to the general education curriculum.
According to the survey results published on UWF’s general education website, common trends from the responses include concerns about the omission of certain courses from general education requirements, and the expected results from the general education changes.
The survey comes after universities are making changes in general education curriculums throughout the State University System of Florida to comply with a 2012 mandate from the Florida Legislature. Tom Westcott, UWF dean of general education, said the results can be used to improve the changes before they’re implemented.
After review by the general education project’s steering committee, which is composed of a single member from each institution in the state university system, the results may be presented to the project’s faculty committee composed of state university system faculty members.
“They could call the groups of faculty back together and say ‘Look, the faculty across have this issue,’” said Westcott, who sits on the steering committee. “And that’s going to be when it gets really interesting.”
The summary of faculty input, posted online at UWF’s general education website, said “responses were quite varied and difficult to specifically categorize,” and details the most prevailing opinions, including those that view the learning outcomes that will be expected from students to be “weak, immeasurable and inappropriate.”
In addition to the summary of the survey responses, the verbatim responses are posted online and reflect the opinions of the 94 faculty members who responded to the survey anonymously.
In response to only one English composition course potentially required to satisfy general education requirements, one faculty member wrote, “given the inability of high schools to teach English composition effectively, I doubt that one course will be enough to bring incoming students up to par with college-level or university-level writing.”
Another asked, “Where is economics? That discipline is a critical area in the education of an informed citizen. It definitely should be included in the core! To include anthropology and sociology at the expense of economics is inexcusable,” in response to the core courses proposed for social sciences.
The potential for exclusion of certain courses comes as the mandate requires a reduction in general education requirements from 36 to 30 semester hours and limits core courses in each area. The responding faculty disagreeing with the reduction was 77.2 percent, while 22.2 percent said they were satisfied with the reduction to 30 semester hours.
Cora Merritt, president of the UWF Student Government Association, said she is concerned that university students haven’t been given opportunities to voice their opinions on the changes.
“I appreciate the Governor’s effort to make higher education more efficient, however, I am concerned about the lack of student input in the decision to reform general education,” Merritt said in an email. “I hope that students are included in further efforts on a state level when addressing significant changes such as this.”
Survey results and verbatim responses from faculty can be found online at www.uwf.edu/genstudies.