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Colleges in Colorado

This is a front page, above the fold, story in the Denver Post today: "Colleges miss the mark on basics." The point is this:

More than a third of the core classes Colorado public colleges and universities submitted to the state for review have deficiencies that are likely to require a warning that they might not transfer to other schools because they do not meet state standards.

The schools submitted 320 courses that are taught as core classes designed to offer students the basics. The Colorado Commission on Higher Education coordinated a group of 100 faculty members from different schools and disciplines to review class descriptions. The commission is scheduled to vote on the recommendations Thursday.

I am not exactly sure what core classes are, but the categories (arts and humanities, mathematics, etc.) are mentioned in the box at the end of the article. A course on the "History of Rock’n’Roll" passed, while "General Physics" did not. It seems that the various state schools nominated the classes to be "core"; such classes "allows students to demonstrate critical thinking and competency in the subject." Someone explains that the Rock’n’Roll class was approved because it shows "the rock music of the era reflected the society and politics of the time." Perfectly pedestrian stuff, is it not? The physics prof said that his class may not have passed because "the course was too in-depth to be considered a basic class."
That may explian why the Rock’n’Roll class passed. I am perplexed why a front page article like this doesn’t explain in any detail what makes a class core (or basic). Yet, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education takes it seriously, at least regarding the transfer credit issue.

Discussions - 7 Comments

Peter, does this mean that I can transfer in a "History of Video Games" course to substitute for the "Great Books" course for the MAHG???

I teach in at one of the universities mentioned in the article and I have the same questions. Granted, it is my first year teaching here so I am not familiar with what goes on in other departments or universities. If it makes you feel any better about history education in Colorado, I am pretty sure that all of my classes would meet with your approval.

My guess is that the problem is with the course descriptions and not the courses. The people who write the course descriptions should get a copy of the "rubric" and clean up their act. I suppose that is exactly what they will do.

Tony, That’s right! I hope all is well with you. Getting home tomorrow. Long trip.

I beg to differ with Charles (although I do have a twin by the same name, I assume this one is not related!) that the problem with a lot of these college courses is not the description but the content itself. This is especially frightening when the course sounds pretty normal and solid, but sitting in the course would be a vacuous experience of jargon, nonsense, and drivel.


From the article it seems that the evaluations were done on the basis of written course descriptions and questionaires. I really do think it is unlikely that someone sat in on these classes. I teach mathematics at the University of Akron. Nobody really knows what I do in the classroom - everything depends on my integrity.

Whenever someone starts talking about "critical thinking skills" I start doing some critical thinking. The concept seems to be popular in colleges of education where very little critical thinking ever takes place.

...or where "critical thinking" means a sophomoric and presentist attack on anything written before 1980 - usually for its lack of "inclusiveness." It is much easier to feel clever dismissing everything Jefferson ever wrote "because he owned slaves, was a hypocrite," etc, than it is to be challenged by actually reading and ruminating over his work.

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