145 four-credit courses modified to three


As students register for classes, many may notice courses previously listed as four credit hours now count as only three.

About 145 previously four-credit hour courses starting in Summer 2013 have been modified to three credit hours in an attempt to streamline the university’s course offerings with the state’s common course catalog.

USF Provost Ralph Wilcox said at the last Faculty Senate meeting that USF currently offers “somewhere in the vicinity of 300 courses for more than three credit hours that are often three credit hours at other universities across the system.”

The courses, he said, share the same content, prerequisites and learning outcomes, but are counted differently at other universities, sometimes causing confusion for students who transfer credits.

“The genesis comes from the increasing scrutiny and oversight we’re feeling from Washington, Tallahassee and (SACS) Atlanta,” Wilcox said. “… We need to align ourselves with reality and restore this institution and the academy to some semblance of integrity.”

After emailing college deans with a list of the courses in question, 145 courses, including Business and Life Science Calculus courses, Intro to Statistics, several history, art and classics courses, were changed to three credit hour courses and about 120 are still pending further review.

Wilcox said four-credit courses often “screw up” student scheduling, resulting in additional costs, excess hours and a prolonged stay at the university.

Some of the credits, he said, did not follow state guidelines and came about as a result of USF’s switch from trimesters to quarters and then to semesters.

Some faculty at the meeting questioned whether changing the credits would prolong the time needed to degree completion or what the academic reasoning behind changing credit hours were.

Emanuel Donchin, a professor in the department of psychology and a member of the Faculty Senate, questioned the similarity of the courses offered in the common course catalog, stating that even within his department different faculty offered different teaching based on the same textbook, and said he found “the notion that we should drive our academic plans” to match the state centralized catalog to be “ridiculous.”

Wilcox said while the university did not have an academic argument for reducing the number of credit hours, it would not have much impact on graduation time.

“You can divide 120 by four or three, it’s the same (number of total credits),” he said.

Another faculty member stated one could take a 20 mg prescription of a medicine or a 30 mg prescription and have a different end effect.




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