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Georgia State University-2015--Block Schedules, -Meta-majors/learning communities

Year: 
2016

Requiring all students to choose a meta-major puts students on a path to degree that allows for flexibility in future specialization in a particular program of study, while also ensuring the applicability of early course credits to their final majors.  Implemented in conjunction with major maps, block scheduling, and freshman learning communities, meta-majors provide clarity and direction in what would otherwise be a confusing and unstructured registration process.

Upon registration, all students are required to enroll in one of seven meta-majors: STEM, Arts & Humanities, Health, Education, Policy & Social Science, and Exploratory.  Once students have selected their meta-major, they are given a choice of several block schedules, which are pre-populated course timetables including courses relevant to their first year of study.  On the basis of their timetable selection, students are assigned to Freshman Learning Communities consisting of 25 students who are in the same meta-major and take classes according to the same block schedules of 5 – 6 courses in addition to GSU1010, a 1 credit hour course providing students with essential information and survival skills to help them navigate the logistical, academic, and social demands of the University.

  • A major enhancement associated with the program this year has been the engagement and partnership of the colleges around meta majors. Instead of just exploring majors based on the content and insights developed independently by the instructor for the FLC, colleges are structuring the orientation class and developing extensive programming designed to support major/discipline and career exploration.  For example, last year the Robinson College of Business completely re-thought how Robinson presents GSU 1010.  Last year, they ran a natural experiment where half of their FLC sections were taught with the enhanced curriculum they developed and half were taught the old way.  Students who had the RCB enhanced curriculum were retained at a better rate and were much more involved with student organization and with majors.  This year all the RCB FLCs are being taught in this way and they are working on a plan to structure and build on what they are doing in GSU 1010 to enhance the major across all program years.  
  • The FLC team also improved the hiring process for GTAs associated with the program and improved support for GSU 1010 instructors.
  • Additionally, we have worked to improve math alignment for majors.  One of the benefits of the FLC program is ensuring that students only take college algebra and calculus if they need it. Though we do not have math in every FLC, communities that do have math ensure that students are on a math track appropriate to their major. Students that do not need calculus either take Statistics or Math Modeling.