Change to Gen-Ed Requirements

MCCC is moving foward with changes in the courses needed for graduation.
College faculty have been working for a half-dozen years to rewrite the general education requirements students have to meet to graduate.
A glitche discovered last winter threatened to derail the process, but a compromise seems to have saved the day.
Early in the process, faculty decided to base the requirements on "competencies," instead of the course-based system that has been used.
Basing the requirements on competencies allows the college to more definitely define what qualities and skills an MCCC graduate should possess.
In the past, students were responsible for five courses totaling 16 credit hours. That system is still in place for current students.
The entire faculty worked on creating the new model, which was based on nine competencies and 27 credit hours.
If the new system had been approved, students would have had a wider variety of classes to choose from to meet the requirements, but more total credit hours.
The change was going smoothly with three competencies being rolled out each semester, until a glitch was found last winter.
Twenty-seven general credits would be too heavy of a course load for programs such as respiratory therapy and nursing.
These degrees are highly specialized and do not have the available slots for more general education courses.
The nursing program has recently gone through its own curriculum revision and includes 43 credits, not including general education courses.
"The nursing accreditation body has a lot of requirements for what our nursing program should look like, and 27 general education credits, in addition to the program requirements, would not be possible," said Nicole Garner, assistant professor of nursing.
For students in most transfer areas, the difference in course load would have been almost unnoticeable.
Most competencies that students would have been required to meet are in courses that they would have already been taking for their degree, said Bill McCloskey, chairmen of the MCCC Learning Assesment Committee.
Geology professor Lisa Scarpelli, who is chair of the Faculty Council, agreed that the course load won’t be much different than the current system.
When the glitch was discovered, a volunteer task force was created to try to find a solution that would work for everyone.
There were several options for dealing with the situation, McCloskey said.
The college could lower the number of competencies, or even give nursing and respiratory therapy students a pass, he said.
"There is more than one way to skin the cat," he said, "But we are going to have to pick a way."
The task force decided to mold the new competency system off the new Michigan Transfer Agreement (MTA), which is replacing the MACRO agreement.
The change reduced the number of competencies from 9 to 6.
The competencies will be in English, math, natural science, humanities, social science, and computers.
The classes taken under this new system will be very similar to the classes required under the current system.
The competencies will make it easier for the college to assess whether or not students are proficient in class material.
"We want to be able to assess if students are actually getting material, and we had no way to measure that before," Scarpelli said.
For the last two years, while the new system was phased in, professors have begun assessing student learning in the courses that will be the new general education satisfiers.
Professors have a rubric for each student in their class; the rubrics are guidelines to define how proficient each student is in each specific subject.
While these rubrics have nothing to do with the student’s final grade, they help professors to identify areas of struggle among students.
Scarpelli thinks that this is beneficial to both students and professors.
"If we can assess better, we know where the deficiencies are and we can teach better," she said.
The competencies and rubrics are being re-evaluating this fall with hopes of assessing at least some of them in winter of 2015.
"As long as we have in our degrees and courses opportunities for students to learn how to do things, we’ve done our job," said McCloskey.
If all goes well, the six new graduation requirements will be included in the catalog that is printed this winter for use beginning in the fall of 2015.