2009 Focus Group - Advisors
Some questions from the original questionnaire weren't used because the responses were integrated in earlier discussion. Below are the specific questions they answered and brief summary of the original report.
General Impressions of General-Education Requirements (GER)
What are the benefits of general-education requirements in preparing YSU students to be productive and responsible citizens?
The GER makes students well-rounded; it makes the difference between a technical degree and a university education and allows students to understand and communicate with others. It broadens their perspectives and enables them to make better decisions about their majors.
What are the challenges of the GER in preparing YSU students to be productive and responsible citizens?
The current GER is unnecessarily complicated and limited; the advisors prefer the old model in which any courses from specific departments were acceptable. For the most part, the GER hurts transfer students, but, oddly enough, in some cases transfer students benefit since their incoming courses may be equated more generously. The advisors think that students are discouraged from seeking depth of knowledge in any area and that the intensives are not working.
They said that the intensives should simply be the province of each major and assessed within the capstones. Inconsistency between writing-intensive courses is so severe that it makes the designation meaningless.
They pointed out that some courses were pulled from the GER because of lack of assessment, which caused great problems for students. Also, some areas have been left out of the GER: computer literacy, multiculturalism and diversity, civility and respect.
They said that the math requirement is "bizarre": algebra and geometry aren't taught; higher level maths don't count; the five-credit 1501 hurts students' GPA.
The GERs also hurt students' enthusiasm for attending college. The large number of remedial courses adds to this dilemma.
The advisors also voiced concern about the quality of faculty advising, particularly when it comes to general-education courses and transfer courses.
From a professional advisor's perspective, what are the strengths of YSU's general-education model?
The goals are good but too complicated. It is good that majors can use the general-education requirements to fulfill their discipline-specific needs; however, that double-dipping doesn't encourage students to experiment. They suggested some common courses that all students, even transfer students, would have to take. They thought that OBOR should require identical GERs, including numbering systems, to make transfer easier and more consistent.
They said that students are opting for online GERs.
What are the weaknesses?
Students who needed night or weekend schedules find it impossible to find general-education courses; more online options would be optimal. Consistency in access is an additional problem (some courses are more available than others).
Comment on the strengths and weaknesses of the domains, including basic skills:
Prerequisites that included freshman composition didn't make sense to them. Some thought that research should be the province of majors.
They find this area to be successful.
"Math" is a four-letter word. They don't understand (or agree with) the requirements.
They think more classes from majors should be available. Departments should propose more.
Artistic and Literary:
There are too few options in this domain; all English literature courses should be on it. For English in particular, there is huge inconsistency in what is assigned.
Societies and Institutions:
Because the classes are larger and the list of possibilities longer, this domain causes fewer problems.
Personal and Social Responsibility:
The advisors thought that this domain should be combined with SI and that the two courses should be a required ethics course and a wellness course.
They also discussed an orientation course that might help students to better understand the GER.
This domain should either be deleted or expanded. In its present form, it's useless.
What are the strengths of YSU's general-education model in the advising of transfer students?
Advisors ignore GER for transfer students; they try to fulfill the "spirit" of the GER, but they make their own decisions.
The GER model may be revised soon. How would you improve the model?
Go back to the old model. They argued for simplicity and more choice for students. Remove the intensives requirement; eliminate all GER paperwork; allow students to test out of math and count economics as a math; add technology requirement.