Middlesex Community College (MA, not to be confused with that of CT or NJ) has divided its student achievement into fragments of a single loan, of which students choose three. They are then summarized in a single course in the transcript.
My colleague MCC, Phil Sisson, presented this in the league with the Dean of Social Sciences, interdisciplinary studies, and the online and weekend programs Matthew Olson. (I think I have the almost correct title, in my defense it is very long …) I immediately became jealous because it would be so much harder to do such a thing here. But it’s a great idea.
As far as I understand it, the essence of the idea is that every student must complete the “Introduce to College” class of a relatively generic loan. However, for the remaining two credits you can choose from a large and growing list. From my point of view, the most attractive topics were the mini-interdisciplinary activities of a weekend. On a Friday and Saturday, the university brings together several speakers, including off campus, to offer students a deep and immersive immersion in a particular experience. Afterwards, the students write reflections that serve both for qualification and for artifacts for the evaluation of the results.
The themes of a single weekend could be geographic regions, social movements, historical periods, or just about anything. Mini-courses have to achieve certain learning outcomes for general education students, but they are also open to teachers’ passions.
What is the other resource? Moving to cutting scores to 60 credits and offering guided routes has made it harder for teachers to develop and teach courses in areas of personal interest. Over time, this can be demoralizing for teachers and deprive students of the experience of following someone in a more specialized or idiosyncratic field of interest. With the successful student course as a roof, they can devote themselves to intensive and personal academic areas.
Better yet, the “conference” format is suitable for collaboration. A particular class may be organized by a sociologist, but it could be guests from English, political science, history and economics to teach various aspects of the subject. As a student’s learning experience, this could be remarkable, albeit short.
Sisson pointed out that “the registrar hates him,” which makes sense. I would imagine that such a format could hinder the management of grants. It is well known that ERP systems drown in such things. In a state like New Jersey, where student success rates are not yet recognized as part of the generation transfer, this would be even more difficult in this regard. But as a claim, I found it exciting. Interdisciplinary teaching should not take place exclusively in four-year schools. They can also benefit community college students (and teachers). Student Success Courses, often considered banal, could be the banner under which all sorts of exciting things are taught. Put that in the generated frame, and it will even be transferred.
Thank you, Middlesex, for doing the hard work to bring the square pencil of the idiosyncratic classes into the round of transmission. It will be a while before we can do this, but it is a worthy goal.