GNST 300 tutorials set to change

By Ashad Mukadam

Students registering in General Studies 300 Fall 2011 semester will notice some differences with the structure of the course’s tutorials.

The University of Calgary faculty of arts will increase tutorial sizes from 25 to 30 students and will also have the tutorial components of the course taught by graduate students from the faculty instead of the sessional instructors currently used. The changes are a result of budgetary constraints at the U of C.

Students’ Union arts faculty representative Laura Golebiowski raised concerns about the changes during the Oct.26 Student Legislative Council meeting.

“I was following up on a student concern about tutorials being cut and so I spoke on October 20 with [faculty of arts professor Ron] Glasberg about the issue,” she said. “I wanted [SLC] to recognize the importance of the issue and keep it on the radar.”

Golebiowski was concerned that faculty administration would make further changes to the structure of GNST 300 tutorials without consultation with arts student faculty representatives.

“I expected the increased sizes due to the budget constraints and it shouldn’t impact the quality of tutorials,” she said. “I’m more worried about further changes being made without consultation because it is a required class for Communication and Culture students and it is so reading-focused.”

Golebiowski added that tutorials are critical for students’ understanding of the material.

Shane Halasz, a sessional instructor with the faculty of arts, is worried students may not get tutorial instructors who are familiar with the material.

“Because graduate students tend to graduate, there will be high turnover and no continuity of people who know the material,” said Halasz.

Halasz said as a result grad students will have a steep learning curve as they must continuously learn the material each semester.

Golebiowski agreed the new structure will cause strain on TAs and students.

“You can learn as you go but it is crucial to have TAs to be familiar with the styles of the different instructors,” she said. “Tutorials can actually enhance the material that is taught in class.”

Glasberg said he believes the changes will not affect the quality of instruction and the right grad students will be selected to teach tutorials. Glasberg said the grad students will have markers to help grade class requirements and exams.

Golebiowski would not speculate on the quality of instruction that might come next year from grad students.

“It’s a bit too early to tell,” she said. “It could be a good thing due to the course now having interdisciplinary status.”

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