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The Blue & Gray Press | February 22, 2018

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Class Credits in Jeopardy

By VALERIE LAPOINTE

During recent discussions about the university’s Strategic Plan, a proposal surfaced to do away with the current credited class system.

Currently, in order to graduate from UMW with a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science degree, 120 credits are required. Doing away with a credited class system would instead require a set number of classes. The proposed number is 32, according to Werner Wieland, chair of the department of biological sciences.

During meetings with representatives from the College of Arts and Sciences, the science department of natural sciences expressed the most concern with this proposal.  Assistant Professor of biology Abbie Tomba originally proposed the course-by-course system.

“In a science class you often have a lab component, which is technically one class but time wise is more like a class and a half,” Wieland said. “A system that only counts [the] number of classes would not take this additional time commitment into account.”

The College of Education also had concerns about this course counting system.

“During the meeting, [representatives from] the College of Education expressed concern that their students would be at a disadvantage, because they are required to do internships that are evaluated on a credit hour system,” said Cole Eskridge, a junior biology major who sat in on the meeting. “If the University were to switch over to a class counting system, the education department would have to rework their entire program.”

While there are some departmental concerns with a course-counting system, Richard Finkelstein, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences said that there are advantages to be had.

“With a course-counting system, students would only be taking four courses a semester,” Finkelstein said.  “This would allow for more in-depth work in their subject, and would allow more time for research and more challenging assignments. Students would gain much greater depth in their subject matter.”

With a course-counting system, special considerations would also have to be made for students transferring in and out of UMW, as their courses would need to be evaluated and given credit value to be compatible with other schools.

“This is a problem that can be dealt with, as other universities are able to operate on this system without problem,” Wieland said. “However, given that discussions on this item are only in the preliminary stages it is not something we are looking at in depth at the moment.”

The proposed academic makeover would not take effect for a few years.

“This is only being talked about at this point,” said Finkelstein.  “It is not a high priority for this year.”