General-education proposal open for student feedback

The Student Government Association held an open forum Wednesday, Oct. 22 at 7:15 p.m. in the Ronald Board Room to allow students to give feedback about the proposal for changing general-education requirements for upcoming school years. Ten students attended the forum led by professor Bradley “Peanut” McCoy and SGA Academic Senator Matthew Kriege.

The proposal would add, combine, remove or enhance various classes in the general-education curriculum and possibly alter the format of the Senior Seminar course.

The goal is to improve writing courses, include civic knowledge and engagement and heighten intercultural awareness plus embed critical thinking in the process. APU students are required to complete general-education courses in addition to the major of their choosing within the 120 credits needed for graduation.

“This has been in the works for 2-3 years, and this is the first time that students are being [made] aware of it,” said Kreige, a sophomore psychology and pre-med major.

The meeting began by discussing learning outcomes throughout general-education courses. The outcomes include: knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world, intellectual and practical skills, personal and social responsibility, biblical and theological equipping and integrative and applied learning.

Each category gives specifics that are taught in different general-education courses, such as ethical reasoning and action under personal and social knowledge or sciences and history under knowledge of human cultures

The proposal changes the alignment of how some classes are currently set up.

According to McCoy, the biggest change that will happen next fall will be the replacement of the Beginnings course and Health Education course with a new First Year Seminar course. First Year Seminar will be a 3-unit course taken by freshmen for one semester. The new First Year Seminar course will include Alpha groups and add an introduction to college academics, including some key academic skills like information literacy, critical thinking and writing.

Other changes include the names of some general-education courses and additional options for Senior Seminars (such as internships). In addition, Bible/theology/ministries courses will be reconstructed and build on each other and foreign or modern language courses will be credited if a student took two years of a language in high school and had at least a B.

“We think it is beneficial to have students hear about it for their feedback, since there are a lot of changes being made and some of them can be quite controversial,” Kriege said.

This proposal is going through multiple steps. The first step was collecting feedback, which has been done but will continue to be gathered. Second, the proposal is to be finalized by the Curriculum Design Committee. Thirdly, it is debated and approved by the General Education Council. Finally, there will be debate and a vote by the faculty senate.

The end of the forum was filled with questions of clarification. Most pertained to the addition of new classes and the formation of others, such as the role of philosophy courses and the sophomore writing class, which is looking to be an additional required writing course.

The idea for an APU standardized writing and math test was suggested. Suggestions were also made about the foreign language requirement and the benefits it has as a requirement in general education. Some students brought up the idea of specified foreign language courses for departments, to coincide with intercultural learning courses.

“I think students deserve more out of their education and to develop not only skills but competency in thinking about the world,” said Emma Lietz, senior philosophy and theology major. “I think the new program is seeking to value both components.”

There will be another meeting Thursday, Oct. 30 for any students who did not know about the previous forum. A mass email will be sent out to students, according to Kriege. It will be another opportunity for student feedback, getting to know what the proposal is about and how it will affect future students.