Last year, Wayne State’s Board of Governors approved new general education requirements. Some of these new requirements were implemated in winter 2018 with all of them going into effect by 2021.
“Every university should look at its general education program periodically to see if it’s up to date with what students need and to see how it fits in with the university’s strategic plan,” said Jeff Pruchnic, an associate English professor and member of the General Education Reform Committee.
The GERC gathered information from students and faculty, coming to the consensus that the number of credits in general education was large.
“We discovered that the number of credits in [general education] was a little higher than we wanted and a little higher than similar universities,” said Pruchnic. “On average, at a university like [WSU], you’re going to see somewhere between 30 to 36 credits in [general education].”
The new requirements reduce the required number of credits from 46 to 35. This reduction will cut out nearly 1 full-time semester, saving both time and money for WSU students.
“This allows students to have greater flexibility in the courses they take pertaining to their chosen majors,” said Nourhan Hamadi, the president of Student Senate. “Having free electives offers the most flexibility for both scheduling as well as the added benefit of more student choice, interest and engagement.”
Some requirements will be eliminated in favor of broader requirements with philosophy, letters and visual and performing arts courses now being combined to form the Cultural Inquiry requirement that covers all arts and humanities. These classes could see less enrollment due to this merger.
“I’m going to be able to spend more time focusing on classes that help me in the field I’m interested in. Right now, I’m getting caught up in classes that don’t benefit my major,” said Jonathan Deschaine, a freshman media arts major. “I’m paying a decent amount of money for some of these classes I don’t really need; so, if I have to take less that would help me a lot.”
The minimum number of credits required for graduation is 120 credits. There are some majors—like engineering and education—in which students are required to take more than 120. An interest in changing the number of credits was to ensure that general education courses weren’t the courses pushing students over the minimum number.
These new requirements will give more students the opportunity to double major or minor within the 120 required credits, something which was difficult to do with the previous general education requirements.
These requirements also allow students to take more courses in their major as well as more elective courses.
“The requirements in, their own ways, are more specific but less disciplined centered and will hopefully ease scheduling and allow different opportunities for students to schedule classes and fulfill those requirements,” added Pruchnic.
The new changes could result in 14 credits being reduced per degree along with increased graduation rates, according to the proposed curricular framework. Subsequently, the amount of time it takes to get a degree will decrease as well.
“The process of discussing general education has been very enlightening and has led us [educators] to reconsider, rethink and update what we think are the standard skills that all students need, or what it is that students should learn about,” said Pruchnic.
Hamadi noted that while these requirements are definitely better than previous education requirements, “there is still a lot of work to be done to continue increasing student success at WSU.”