New USP proposal raises concern

I was among the small group that attended the student forum on proposed University Studies Program changes, and contrary to the article presented in Wednesday’s Kernel, I did not come out feeling positive about the proposal. Here I would like to highlight a few of my concerns with the proposal.

First and foremost, I feel the move to a collection of one-credit, five-week courses that place an emphasis on reasoning skills rather than material fail to provide any real value to students.

To obtain a sufficient grounding in most topics to carry on meaningful discussion would require the entire five-week course, leaving no opportunity to develop the critical-thinking skills the proposal intends. Teaching students to form and defend opinions in the absence of information is asinine and should not be encouraged.

Furthermore, five-week courses with a proposed size of 75 to 100 students would not allow for the kind of assignments and attention that would help students to develop their reasoning skills. Instead, it will create an unnecessary burden on faculty and teaching staff who will have to design and administrate the courses.

I also feel that the proposed system lacks the flexibility that is a highlight of the current system. Currently, motivated students can benefit from applying Advanced Placement credits, test scores, pre-major requirements and special-interest classes to fulfill USP requirements. Under the new system, all students will be shoehorned into the same track. The proposal also forces students to sit through a UK 101-style course that teaches skills college students should already have in the first place.

On a more positive note, some of the proposed changes seem overdue, such as the move to adjust the math requirement to be more useful for those students going into fields with little math. I urge everyone to look closely at the proposal presented at and apply those critical thinking skills on which the current USP system is accused of insufficiently emphasizing.

Paul Eberhart

Computer engineering senior