Academic review gets underway

The committees charged with evaluating changes made to the University’s academic requirements in 2005 will not only measure the success of the policies, but also search for unintended drawbacks.

Now that two graduating classes have been educated under new distributional requirements and academic policies recommended by the 2003 Committee on Yale College Education, thirteen committees established in September will analyze data from these classes based on the CYCE’s mandates. The review committees will submit an initial report to Associate Dean of Yale College Judith Hackman by Nov. 19. Yale College Dean Mary Miller said the final report, due in May, must gauge the effects of the CYCE changes — both good and bad.

“We really began the process of attending to one of the questions we need to think about, which is what are the unintended consequences?” Miller said.

Committee chairs said they have already begun to pinpoint potential flaws in the 2005 policies — not all of which are related to distributional requirements or academic programming.

Chair of the International Programs Committee Jane Edwards said the International Summer Award, which answered the CYCE’s call for increased funding for study abroad, has increased the number of students who travel in the summer, but caused the number of students who take a term abroad to stagnate. Because the summer options are so attractive, she said, losing a semester at Yale in favor of a semester abroad has become an increasingly difficult trade-off.

Edwards said she is pleased with the rising summer numbers, but would prefer that a greater number of students also go abroad during the school year because taking classes in another country for a semester often allows for a more profound immersion in a foreign pedagogy than summer study. She added that more students might spend a semester abroad if faculty more actively suggested it.

“This can only change if there is a real faculty shift in attitudes towards studying abroad,” she said.

Alfred Guy, director of the Writing Center and convener of the CYCE review committee that will examine writing in Yale College, said he has not found any unanticipated problems with the requirement to take two writing courses. He said he thought the number of students who enroll in introductory English courses might have dropped since other departments now have more writing courses than they used to. But, he said, as many students as ever are taking courses in the English department, even if some fulfill one of their writing credits in another field.

Guy said his committee is also looking at changes in academic programming that were not recommended by the CYCE, such as signifiant expansion of student tutoring at the Writing Center through the Writing Partners Program. He said he is troubled by his discovery that few science students use the Writing Center, adding that this may reflect the tutoring methods as well as the content of science courses.

The writing committee will likely recommend that more science lectures adjust their syllabi so they can grant writing credits, he said.

Edwards said the international programs committee has to consider the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, which brought new faculty to the international studies major when it opened this fall. But since the program is so new, it has generated little data, so she does not yet have a clear understanding of how it is doing.

Rebecca Friedkin GRD ’82, senior researcher at the Office of Institutional Research, said her office has been collecting data concerning the CYCE changes for the past five years. She said she is looking over her findings to help the committees answer their questions and guide their analysis.

“We don’t start with the answers, and we sometimes don’t even start with the question,” she said. “We start with the data.”

Prior to the 2005 changes, courses were divided into four groups: langauge and literature, humanities, social sciences and sciences. Today, they are split into three skills — writing, language and quantitative reasoning — and three subject areas — humanities, social sciences and sciences.

Comments

  • Lamplighter

    Undercontrol. Underrevision. Underconsideration. Underevaluation. Underreview. Underway. NOT!

    Under way!

  • Hieronymus’ Bosh

    Ho hum. A rather everyday error.

  • prion

    An everyday error from an everyday reporter, but surely not from a Yale student!