General Service Courses and Accessibility
One of the major categories identified in the 2007 “Barriers Report,” was entitled “Looking at the student’s perspective from recruitment to graduation: how did I get here, what am I going to do here, and how do I get out of here?” The Barriers Committee noted the high expectations among students and parents built during the extensive recruitment/orientation process, and it seems clear that we use the breadth and diversity of Boston University as part of our value proposition. Students are both disappointed and disadvantaged when they find that: 1) they cannot take courses outside of their major that are of interest to them, 2) many of these have highly restricted enrollments or stringent pre-requisites, 3) a particular minor program, approved by one college, has not been approved by their home college,(22) and 4) transfer requirements between colleges are not consistent.
Our recommendations aim to decrease the gap between the expectations that we raise and the reality that we deliver:
Recommendations for General Service Courses and Accessibility
- Increase the number of general service courses offered by each school and college, including 2-credit and P/F courses. These are courses that offer an introductory treatment for non-majors that could serve as a way for students to gauge their level of interest in a subject area prior to transferring or to provide content that meets certain learning goals, such as critical thinking, the ability to conduct research, social responsibility, etc., but does so from the unique perspective of the offering school or college.(23)
- Encourage schools and colleges to develop one new service course each, without prerequisites, that showcases the unique aspects of their topic areas. Such courses, whose development should be informed as well by dialogue with students and faculty colleagues from outside the offering college, might be offered as 1- or 2-credit courses, or as P/F. In order to achieve a truly “One BU” culture, units that only offer graduate degrees (Law, Public Health, Theology, MED) should do the same, so that we fulfill the recruitment promises of the widest possible range of opportunities. BU schools and colleges should strive to develop new, high-quality, pedagogically innovative, general-service courses by the end of the 2010–11 academic year.
22. A proposal to make the approval of a minor effective and unequivocal across BU has been endorsed by the Council of Deans and will be formally approved in 2010.
23. An example from Sargent College will illustrate this process. There is a longstanding introductory course in Nutrition (SAR HS 251) that requires college-level biology but also assumes the chemistry preparation that generally accompanies CAS BI 107/108 or BI 105/106. As good nutrition is fundamental to good health, the faculty developed a new survey course, SAR HS 201, which is open to all BU students. While both courses are concerned with the application of scientific information about nutrition on health, the introductory course considers daily life problems that can be prevented or ameliorated by improvements in nutrition, while the emphasis in HS 251 is more on the details of the biochemical processes. The initial offering of HS 201 was in Spring 2003, and it has grown steadily to around 200 students, which is the capacity of the largest lecture space in Sargent College.