History reworks course value

The history department will implement curriculum changes this fall that will increase the weighting of upper-level history seminar classes.

Half-year courses that are currently worth 3.0 units will be worth 4.5 units and full-year courses that are currently worth 6.0 units will be worth 9.0 units.

Undergraduate chair of the history department Rebecca Manley said this curriculum change came about after the Faculty of Arts and Science changed how course weighting was determined in September 2011.

“It used to be determined by contact hours and then they changed the way courses are weighted to reflect not only contact hours, but rather the work that students need to put into a class,” Manley said. “Contact hours is how many hours you sit in your class. Learning hours is based partly on the amount of time you spent in class, but also the amount of time you have to spend on the class outside of class hours.”

Manley said the history department saw this change as an opportunity to take stock of how many learning hours there were in history courses.

“Generally, the guideline is that a 3.0 unit course was determined to be 120 hours, that’s the guidelines that the faculty came up with,” she said. “But we determined that a half-year history course was actually 180 learning hours.”

These curriculum changes won’t cost the department anything or affect tuition rates, Manley said.

“Students will still need 60 units for their history major, and the cost of these 60 units will not change as a result of the reweighting.”

The one seminar that history students are required to take in second year won’t be reweighted, Manley said.

“The reading load is lighter,” she said.

Manley said the changes won’t affect students who are completing their degrees over the summer.

She added that the reweighting of how many units seminars are worth is an attempt to make the workload fair.

“Our seminars are substantially more work than our lecture classes,” she said, adding that lectures and seminars are currently weighted the same.

In an email to the Journal Hugh Horton, the associate dean of studies for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, said all departments are now required to use learning hours as part of the course syllabus.

“Starting next year, this information will be published in the Arts and Science’s calendar, and on SOLUS, so students know the general expectations of workload in a particular course,” he said.

Horton said he wasn’t aware of any large scale reweighting of courses being considered by other departments at this time. He added that the changes are being made to the history curriculum because of how strenuous the workload for a seminar is.

“Indeed, the history department has had to legislate limits on the number of readings instructors are permitted to give students in these courses,” he wrote.

In the new school year, more spaces will become available in second-year history courses, Horton said.

“The department is expanding its second-year offerings at the same time, and opening up more places to students in other departments who want to take second-year courses as electives.”

Third-year politics major Daniel Bodirsky said he thinks it’s unfair that only history seminars are being reweighted.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it to be honest. I think it’s pretty unfair,” he said.

Bodirsky said he spends a lot of time on work for his seminar courses as well and added that space is becoming limited in politics courses.

“We had a meeting yesterday where we had to give our top five choices for fall/winter semester courses to make sure that students got into one or two of the courses they wanted.”

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