Changes to graduation requirements begin

Students beginning their first semester at Youngstown State University in the fall 2012 term must meet new requirements in order to graduate. Students enrolled prior to the current term may choose between either the new degree stipulations or the previous standards.

Voted on and finalized at the April 6, 2011, Academic Senate meeting, the alterations are aimed to provide an updated foundation for the university’s bachelor of arts and associate degree programs.

General education requirements are intended to facilitate a well-rounded college education regardless of choice in major.

The last major change to the general education requirements occurred in 2000 and previously in 1994.

YSU Provost Ikram Khawaja said one goal was to reduce the credit hour demand for general education courses.

“Reducing the number of courses made the number of hours required for general education more similar to the requirements of comparable state universities in Ohio,” he said.

YSU had the highest number of hours required in 2010 at 46, not counting capstone courses. The new requirement of 40 hours gives YSU the second highest number.

The most important and visible alteration is the dropping of two courses, from 11 down to nine, in order to meet graduation requirements.

The secondary change is the reshuffling of courses into different knowledge domains, with the Artistic and Literary Perspectives, Societies and Institutions, Personal and Social Responsibility, and the Selected Topics domains receiving an overhaul.

Nearly all courses from the old model are still available under the new one. The only purges are those courses that were irregularly offered, are specific to a particular major or mismatch the new model’s requirements.

The 2010-2011 annual report on general education, downloadable from the general education website, further rationalized the revisions by stating that YSU’s current general education requirements were too cumbersome for students transferring from other institutions.

During the 2011-2012 academic year, in preparation for the changes — and the eventual measurement of their effectiveness — the Repository of Assessment Documents was established. As part of the ROAD, committees combed through learning outcomes from three of the knowledge domains and determined the process by which the new model’s results will be evaluated.

The changes to the general education requirements generated a muted response from the student body. When asked, students seemed largely apathetic to the changes. The most common responses were students not caring about the changes or being grateful for the reduction in credit hours demanded.

Rachel Pontis, a senior majoring in social work, is just happy she doesn’t have to worry about it.

“I’m finished with [general education], thank God,” she said. “It really doesn’t affect me.”