Calvin considers ‘much smaller’ core curriculum, changes coming to prelude
Calvin’s Core Curriculum Committee is considering changes to the required core courses for the 2014-15 academic year as part of its regular re-accreditation process, possibly reducing the required core credit hours for incoming students.
Professor Carl Plantinga, chair of the committee, said that they are only discussing alternate models for core and that no formal presentation has been made.
However, there seems to be movement towards an overall reduction in core requirements.
“The model that we have decided warrants the most discussion is much smaller than the current model for credit hours,” said Plantinga.
Also under review are programs for first-year students including Prelude and Developing a Christian Mind (DCM).
Calvin, which is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, is a pilot institution for a new model of accreditation. This process requires the establishment of a large-scale assessment project with Calvin deciding to evaluate its first-year student programs to fulfill this obligation.
The First-Year Committee, chaired by professor Michael Stob, was created for this purpose and has been tasked with assessing all the programs offered to first-year students.
Stob said that the current core curriculum is ten years old and that the First-Year Committee is assessing if Prelude and DCM are delivering on what they’re set up to accomplish.
“We’ve never really stepped back from either of those courses [DCM and Prelude] and asked what we intend them to do,” said Stob.
Prelude is already going through some minor changes before next year. Director Kristy Manion is stepping down and the course is moving to the academic division rather than student life.
It is improbable that Prelude or DCM will cease to exist, but changes are likely.
“We are strongly committed to having a first year program,” said Stob, while admitting that there were issues with Prelude.
“One thing we notice,” said Stob, “is it’s kind of one-size-fits-all, and if you look at student responses to what they’re learning, there are vast differences.”
Stob and Plantinga confirmed that many faculty have expressed their discontent with the current first-year programs, and Stob confirmed that there will be a listening forum for students and faculty where they will present and receive suggestions.