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CSLB Officials Weigh Overhaul of Curriculum

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Long the curse of college freshmen, general education courses are challenging even the most advanced academicians at Cal State Long Beach this year.

Concerns that CSLB’s curriculum of lower-level courses has become unwieldy and fragmented have prompted a review that many say could drastically improve the university’s introduction to higher education. General education, the so-called “GE” courses, include basic English, science, math and philosophy and are intended to ensure a well-rounded education.

Joining a nationwide effort to fix general education, university administrators, faculty, students and staff members have begun examining when certain classes should be taken and how they should relate to a student’s field of study.

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Only the vaguest of goals have been set, although some constituencies already have clear pictures of what changes should be made.

“I think that there is a very widespread sense on the part of faculty that our current [general education] curriculum doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said Dorothy Abrahamse, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

She said teachers are often frustrated that some students wait until their senior year to take essential classes such as speech communication, which she said should be taken earlier.

Student body President Carl Kemp, who took part in a two-day workshop on general education on campus last month, said students are increasingly mindful of the time they spend studying outside their major. He said any changes to the curriculum should reflect such concerns.

“We’re moving in the direction . . . that [general education should be] tailor-made to different majors,” Kemp said.

The push toward reform gained momentum this summer when a group of faculty and administrators traveled to the University of North Carolina at Ashville for a conference on general education, CSLB Provost Karl Anatol said.

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Among the ideas forwarded at the conference, he said, were suggestions that teachers rely less on tests and more on examples of student work. Some speakers also said there should be more effort to integrate different areas of study, he said.

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