Widespread changes redesign curriculum

Many students at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) have heard that widespread changes are coming to the school curriculum; however, not many students have a clear understanding of what changes are being made and how it may affect their academic pathway. Understandably, many students have a lot of questions about what is truly being changed and what is simply rumor.

One of the main areas of confusion for students is what is happening concerning the language and culture study requirement, something every CSUMB student must fulfill as part of their general education. Kris Roney, associate vice president for Academic Programs and dean of University College and Graduate Studies Academic Affairs explained, “Students in bachelor of science or the Liberal Studies bachelor of arts degree programs are required to complete one semester of language and culture study at the 101 level or higher.

“Students may complete the requirement with a lower division general education Area C2 language course or with a new upper-division C Spanish or Japanese 350 course. In addition to the proficiency-level change, no degree programs have exemptions for transfer students on the basis of “high unit” status,” continued Roney.

Before, all students had to reach “the successful completion of ‘201 level’ or higher, which is about intermediate-low in the standards outlined by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages,” according to Roney. Although meeting this requirement varied depending on the student, as it could be partially satisfied through previous work such as “Advanced Placement exams or international schooling in languages other than English,” many students counted on taking up to three semesters of language and culture study. With the new curriculum, students in bachelor of science or Liberal Studies bachelor of arts degree programs are now only required to complete one semester, in contrast to as many as three.

Additionally, “the language requirement is now called the ‘World Culture and Language’ requirement. Faculty considered feedback from student surveys and the needs of degree programs with the commitment to making the requirement common across a degree program.”

Roney also explained that “students in most bachelor of arts programs are required to complete either the 201 or higher level or one of the new Japanese or Spanish 340 courses that have the same prerequisite as 201 (a C- or higher in the 102 of that level). The 340 courses also meet upper-division C. The lower-division pre-requisite courses meet lower-division C2.”

The changes to CSUMB’s curriculum do not stop with the new language requirements. Currently, most courses are either three or four units; however, almost all courses will be three units in the redesigned curriculum. This will have a direct effect on time spent in the classroom; a three-unit course will “typically [be] scheduled for either three 50-minute, two 75-minute or one 150 [minute] meeting per week,” says Roney. “There are, of course, some variations due to the structure of courses [such as ones with integrated labs].”

Roney also explained the general effect of the changes being implemented, “General education at CSUMB will have the same structure as other CSUs and the California Community Colleges. That is, 39 lower-division general education units (or 40, if B3: Laboratory Practices is not integrated) will be distributed across five subject areas, largely in three-unit courses. Students will then have nine units upper-division general education requirements, distributed across three areas: B (Integrated Scientific Inquiry and Quantitative Reasoning); C (Integrated Arts & Humanities); and D (Integrated Social Sciences). There is no upper-division A area. GE courses that are not 3-units double count with a major and/or other university requirement.”

University requirements “have also changed either in content or distribution.” In summary, according to Roney:

  • First Year Seminar for incoming freshman students with 15 units or fewer: courses continue to also meet a general education requirement at the lower division.
  • World Culture and Language: different requirements based on degree program, and all courses double count with Area C at the upper or lower division.
  • Upper Division Service Learning: courses may double count with the major or with General Education.
  • Ethnic Studies: courses double count with GE or major requirements.
  • Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR): courses also meet major or general education requirements.

“Every change coming to the CSUMB curriculum was made with the students’ best interest in mind,” said Roney, “Because of the changes in general education and university requirements, majors have necessarily responded with changes to reflect the new, streamlined curriculum. In this work, the faculty developed some cutting-edge and creative opportunities. We are creating structures to minimize complexities for students who are moving through two general education models, including crosswalks between requirements.

“These structures will facilitate moving to the new catalog without the appearance of needing to repeat a requirement or content, and some students will be hearing from me regarding the most efficient pathways to complete general education in the Otter Model (the current GE) or between it and the new one,” continued Roney.

Roney would also like to remind “students who have concerns regarding the changes [to] contact Academic Advising or submit them through the FAQ request on the Curriculum Change website.” The curriculum change website may be reached at https://csumb.edu/ucgs/fall-19-ge-course-crosswalk.

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