With registration for spring classes well under way, students may notice a few additions to the usual course catalog.
According to the Undergraduate Council’s online agenda, more than 20 new course proposals have already been approved for next semester, and more than 10 course proposals were approved before this semester.
“New course proposals usually go through the same basic process,” said Michael LeVan, chairman of the Undergraduate Council. “First, a faculty member creates a proposal under the supervision of a department chair or undergraduate committee. Once approved by the department … academic review is initiated at the level of the college curriculum committee.”
Ken Christensen, director of the undergraduate program for Computer Science and Engineering, said all faculty members are allowed to create and teach courses within their area of expertise.
“(However) every college and probably even every department have their own way of creating a curriculum,” he said. “In the College of Engineering (and Nursing and Education), we have accreditation criteria to meet. These criteria largely determine the curriculum of each engineering major – civil, electrical, computer and so on.”
The council then reviews the course proposals several times and ensures that no material is repeated across several courses. Because of this stringent process, he said it is difficult to determine how many classes will be added next semester.
However, Christensen said he knows a few courses that will accept students next semester.
“In the College of Engineering, new classes on robotics and computer chip design will be offered in spring 2011,” he said.
Some other new courses include Introduction to Audiologic Rehabilitation, which will study individuals with hearing loss, and Biology of Aging, which will offer an overview of the cellular and molecular aspects of aging processes in humans, according to the University Undergraduate Council’s website.
Stuart Silverman, dean of the USF Honors College, said Honor’s students can expect new courses on arts and humanities, charitable foundations and prepartion for the MCAT examination. The college will also add three courses that allow students to travel to Costa Rica, Germany and Jamaica during spring break, to learn about the countries’ respective cultures.
Silverman said these courses were made possible by additional funding in the college’s budget from the Department of Academic Affairs.
“We get a budget each year from Academic Affairs for the departments,” he said. “It is used not only to provide scholarships to students but also to provide professors. So the University pays for the instruction.”
This is the case with many other colleges, he said.
Individual colleges and the Undergraduate Council are not the only entities that determine new course offerings. Christensen said student opinion also plays a significant role.
“One of the things that we do is exit interviews with all graduating seniors,” he said. “Anybody that walks out the door, we spend about 30 minutes talking with them about their experience here, about the classes, and so on. We also have them rate and review the courses, and from there, we get input on what students are learning and want to learn.”