By Adavie Guitierrez.
Student journalists from five senior colleges sat at a round table discussion in the Graduate School of Journalism on March 1 for a briefing on Pathways.
A new curriculum credit system starting in the fall of 2013, Pathways is intended to rectify the disorder caused when students transfer from one CUNY campus to another.
“For all 46 years, the biggest complaint of students has been [about] transferring, and what happens when they transfer and problems when they transfer,” said CUNY executive vice chancellor and university provost Lexa Logue, who hosted the briefing.
“Each fall over 10,000 CUNY students transfer from one cuny campus to another. For every senior college, over 50 percent of the students who graduate from those colleges are transfer students.”
There are three parts to a student’s college education: general education, majors and electives.
All college students are required to take general education courses before taking upper level or major courses. Gen-ed or introductory courses help develop students’ writing and analytical and critical thinking skills, and introduce them to different areas of study.
However, each college has a different curriculum structure sometimes exceeding 62-credits in gen-ed alone, and their systems don’t match.
Students are then faced with repeating classes or taking additional introductory courses, which leaves little time to explore elective courses that wouldn’t be available at another time.
Provost Logue said that sometimes when students transfer, they receive elective credit for courses they took as gen-ed.
“So then the transfer student ends up with tons of elective credits, more than they need, but has to repeat gen-ed and major courses,” Logue said. “This is particularly true when going from a community college to a senior college, and that’s kind of backwards.”
After many drafts and meetings, the Board of Trustees passed the Pathways resolution in June 2011. The Pathways blueprint covered all three pieces of the curriculum – general, major and electives – and specified the number of credits that will be transferable in associate’s and baccalaureate degree programs across the campuses. These credits will be recognized by the learning outcome – attained skill – not by the course description.
“This resolution that they passed was very very clear. All it did was to set out a frame work [with] nothing about the actual curriculum because the curriculum was to be left to the faculty,” Logue said.
The Pathways system resolves that:
-All general education credits are transferable between CUNY campuses.
-30-credits are needed to receive an A.A. or A.S.
-Students in bachelor’s degree programs are required to take 6 to 12 additional credits of general education that are defined by each college.
-Students who transfer from associate programs to bachelor’s programs will be required to complete from 6 to 12 College Option credits, depending on how many credits they had at the time of transfer and whether they transferred with an associate degree.
-Students can start the first part of their major and get credit when they transfer for it as long as the receiving college has the same major.
-Students with more than 30-42 credits shouldn’t switch over to Pathways.
A steering committee of faculty members and students designed the categories for the learning outcomes for general education and divided them in two sections: the required core and the flexible core.
No specific course is described in these categories, leaving room for faculty to add their own flavor to it with depending on the intended learning outcome.
“When you focus on learning outcomes, you’re focusing on what you think students need to know and focusing on the end goal,” said Logue. “The important thing is what you end up with.”
Despite the university’s defense of the new system, some faculty and students fear Pathways will eliminate and redirect funding from smaller departments to develop courses in bigger departments.
Chardonnay McMillan, a student who at the time of Pathways conception was serving at the University Student Senate, fears that Pathways will negatively affect smaller departments. She was told by a professor on the faculty committee that in order for Pathways to have a smooth transition some sacrifices were going to have to be made. “Smaller departments that don’t get a lot of attention probably won’t get all the distributions and LEHs that they would like, and this is a result of the obsolete elimination that Pathways brings in.”
Provost Logue emphasized that the importance of Pathways is to make courses more challenging, not to take away funding from other departments.
She said, “We have provided funding for the development of the Pathway courses and every campus has received funding for that.”