February 4, 2006

 

To:                   Curriculum and Teaching Committee

From:               Jennifer McClinton-Temple, Chair-Elect

Subject:            Core Curriculum Summary for Selected Area Schools

 

Introduction

 

At the my request, the Admissions and Enrollment Committee has identified four area schools that King’s would like to be able to compete with academically, but at present, cannot.  The four schools are Muhlenberg, St. Joseph’s, Lasalle, and Bucknell.  In this report, I will summarize the four cores, draw conclusions about their similarities, and make recommendations for how King’s might act on this information. 

 

Muhlenberg

 

Muhlenberg declares four “skills” areas of importance: writing, oral expression, reasoning, and language.  They require a First-year Seminar and two Writing Intensive courses, one reasoning course, drawn from a variety of disciplines, two language courses (in the same language) or demonstrated proficiency, and they spread the oral expression requirement over the curriculum with no specific course designated. 

 

The remaining courses in the Core are spread out across the disciplines in a manner that does not significantly differ from King’s. Two items of note are the diversity requirement and the fine arts requirement.   

 

 

St. Joseph’s

 

St. Joseph’s has a very large Core, consisting of 63 credits spread throughout the disciplines.  It is similar to ours, only larger and heavier on humanities.  One item of note is that not only do they require two semesters of a foreign language, but students who do not have a certain level of proficiency upon their admission to the college must take three classes. 

 

St. Joseph’s is currently undergoing a Core review.  Making the Core smaller seems to be one of the major goals. 

 

Lasalle

 

Lasalle has three different Cores, one each for Arts and Sciences, Bus. Admin, and Nursing.

 

The Arts and Sciences Core does not differ from King’s a great deal.  Two important differences are the option to test out of the writing requirement and the exemption for education majors from the speech requirement.  They also require either two semesters of fine arts or two semesters of  foreign language.  On the whole, their Core is smaller than ours and offers students a bit more choice of electives. 

 

The Business Administration Core is significantly different.  The “skills” courses are the same, and similar to ours, except that business majors take Presentation Skills for Business instead of speech.  There are four courses in “Scientific Understanding,” which consist of natural science, economics, and social science.  They still require two each in religion and philosophy, but the other humanities and history are taken down to one each. 

 

The Nursing Core is similar to the Business Core, with a heavier emphasis on science and a requirement of two fine arts classes. 

 

Bucknell

 

Bucknell also has separate cores, one for Engineers and one for all other majors.  In general, their Core is sophisticated and interdisciplinary.  Given the ability to “double count” course to satisfy requirements, students could take as few as 27 credits in the Core.  At most, 36 credits are required.  Bucknell also has a First-Year Seminar. 

 

Engineering students take two courses in humanities, two courses in social science and two other electives in these disciplines

 

 

Summary

 

With the exception of Bucknell, none of these schools is doing anything radically different from King’s, or radically different from one another.  There are a few significant commonalities.  These schools are more flexible; there are waivers, test-out options, and considerations given to students in certain majors.  Fine arts and foreign language also appear more often in these curriculums than they do at King’s.  Two of  the four schools have a First-Year Seminar and all except Bucknell requires more writing, if not in Writing Intensive courses, then in taking more writing classes.  

 

Recommendations

 

If King’s would like to compete with these schools, even if only for a small number of excellent local students, I believe we should consider the following options:

 

·        Be more flexible in allowing students exemptions based on major

·        Consider “test-out” options for some classes, especially writing and foreign language

·        Continue to research the First-Year Seminar option

·        Consider a fine arts requirement in the Core