Reactions to mandated course cause changes

University College 101 administration plans to adjust classroom size and include more small group discussions than classes did last semester, a UCOL administrator said.

Although the Saluki First Year office and class instructors are still collecting last year’s evaluations, class format changes have already begun and even more are expected  for fall, said Amber Manning, a UCOL 101 Foundations of Inquiry administrator and instructor.

“It is a class that is a lot of foundational skill building, so some freshmen don’t see the value of that until sophomore or junior year,” she said. “For me, a lot of the students come back and come into my office and tell me they are using what they learned in UCOL in their current classes.”

Manning said this semester’s UCOL curriculum will be similar to last semester, but students who didn’t pass last semester’s class will be offered new probationary classes. Skills such as time priority management will be the focus, she said.

“We ask the question why the students weren’t successful in the fall,” Manning said. “It is really about them getting their confidence with being in college.”

UCOL 101 is often controversial because many freshmen do not believe they need to take the course or believe they  know everything the class offers, she said.

“This is not a class, to me, you take if you are underprepared,” she said.  “Even overachieving students can use this class.”

She said classroom size is also crucial to student success.

“It has to be in a small classroom setting for it to be successful is what I have noticed,” Manning said.

Emily Burke, a UCOL 101 instructor, had her own experiences when she taught the course. Burke said she saw a gap between better-prepared students and pupils who needed the course more.

“I really enjoyed teaching the course,” she said, “I was surprised at what some students can do.”

Burke said non-traditional and honors students could use separate UCOL 101 courses.

“I had a veteran in one of my classes, and he missed out on an opportunity where he could have been with other students who were veterans,” Burke said. “He did not need the leadership skills taught to the other students because he has had separate experiences.”

Scott Rakow, UCOL instructor, said he also had a positive class experience but received mixed student reviews.

“I definitely got good feedback from my class, but I heard varying reports on how necessary it was,” he said.

Rakow said the course’s structure allowed flexibility, but there should be less students in each class.

“A lot of this class is group discussions about things like sexual health, alcohol, and so on, so keeping the group size low is ideal for those discussions,” he said.

The mandated course also sparked varied student opinion.

“It was all right,” said Ian Watkins, a freshman from Waterloo studying civil engineering. “I felt like it was a waste of my time and that I could have took a class that adhered to my major more.”

Brittany Hardaway, a freshman from Chicago studying radio television, said the course was better as the semester progressed.

“I did not like how many professors taught the class, but thought the topic got more interesting as the class went along,” she said.

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