Welcome to my pre-program:

By Mary Chan

The University of Calgary is changing its General Studies pre-program, and they want to know what you think. Until Sept. 30, the Direct Entry Review and Implementation Committee is looking for student feedback on the first-year pre-program at the U of C.

"We’d like to find out how [students] would like or would have liked their first year to be," said Student Academic Assembly Science Representative and Committee Member Tamara Starke. "Student input can show us the problems with the current system."

Students entering the U of C currently go into one of five faculties: General Studies; Fine Arts; Kinesiology; Engineering or Nursing. Students entering other faculties do so after at least one year in General Studies.
Students can provide input on three possible scenarios, or create their own.

"It will either be direct entry, a common first year, or a cluster option where students would go into a specific cluster of faculties," said Starke.

According to U of C Associate Vice-president Student Affairs and committee chair Peggy Patterson, there are four reasons for the proposed change, including identity confusion (when General Studies students want to be identified with a program but aren’t sure where to go with questions), a negative perception of General Studies and competition between continuing and transfer students for spaces.

Patterson also cites the lack of coherence in first year courses as a reason.
"There isn’t an overall agreement institutionally regarding what knowledge skills and attitudes to learning we want students to have after their first year," said Patterson. "Each faculty is focusing on content but not on learner needs."

"Right now students find it’s ‘memorize the answers and spit them up in the final’," said Starke. "Hopefully, we can teach approaches to knowledge instead of just mere facts."

The Committee will reportedly keep several factors in mind when analyzing the results.

"We’ll be looking at how it will affect individual kinds of students such as the student that comes into the university and doesn’t know what they want to take, or the student who comes into the university and has narrowed their options down but they’re still not completely sure," said SAA Social Science Representative and Committee Member Bryndis Whitson. "And then there’s also the students who go in and know exactly what they want to take."

Whitson added other concerns include implementing the changes and the effect on administration and faculties.

Once all information is collected, the committee will develop a set of recommendations in October.

"Once we know what the public wants a proposal will be written up," said Starke. "Hopefully it will pass through many, many committees."

The set of recommendations will reach the General Faculties Council in November. Changes, however, will not be implemented until September 2001.

A discussion document is available from the Students’ Union at MacEwan Student Centre 251 and Patterson’s office in A100. Students can also access the document online.

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