GRU focused on five strategies to decrease excess credits earned on the path to getting a degree. The first strategy was to eliminate learning support but create “stretched” sections of MATH 1111, ENGL 1101, and ENGL 1102 for students who do not score well on the placement exams. Students in these stretched sections earn three hours of credit as with the normal sections, but allow two extra hours per week for just-in-time remediation. This format eliminates the need for prerequisite or co-requisite courses that would add extra hours, and thus decreases excess credits earned on the path to getting a degree.
The second strategy was to create program maps for each major with appropriate general education Area A2 math sequences (math pathways). We also included Area D science sequences to ensure alignment with the math pathway and science area which would help the student be most successful in their chosen major. The creation of program maps is tangential to another campus project focused on curriculum mapping at the program and course level. The result of both the program schemas and curriculum maps will be a path to a degree through a “choice architecture,” which reduces course selection opportunities for students but does not sacrifice the quality of learning.
A third strategy was to implement pre-determined schedules for the first semester of all new freshmen. A schedule of courses is prescribed based on the students’ intended area of major and includes the necessary courses to ensure that students can complete their intended major within four years. Starting in fall 2015 after students complete their first semester, they will have more freedom to select course times and sections; however, these courses must be in their pre-approved course plan. The student’s advisor will regulate the appropriate course registration through DegreeWorks, and then, the student can adjust his or her schedule for their preferred course times through College Scheduler (software interfaced with Banner).
A new strategy proposed last year, but not yet implemented, is designing meta-majors. At GRU, one meta-major cluster might be nursing/occupational therapy/radiological sciences and another might focus on English/foreign language/history. These clusters have common science and mathematics core courses, which allow students to explore potential majors without enrolling in unnecessary courses thereby earning credits that would not ultimately count towards their degree.
The fifth strategy, currently ongoing, is to redesign core curriculum gateway courses that consistently have high DFW rates