EDITORIAL: New competencies valuable tool to prevent academic inadequacy
CMU’s curriculum is in need of an update, and plans to require two new competencies should be implemented as soon as possible.
University administrators said the new competency requirements — quantitative reasoning and writing-intensive courses — will ensure students are better prepared to reason through the myriad complexities in today’s society. Preliminary plans do not require students to take numerous additional courses and will require only minor adjustments to the curriculum.
The quantitative reasoning requirement would not be math-intensive; rather, it would focus on critical thinking skills. The writing-intensive courses would not only offer students a chance to improve their understanding of the written word, but also much more feedback from professors for further improvement.
Requiring students to take classes which require more intensive writing and critical thinking skills would be an extremely positive development, since the Michigan college-bound population is inadequately challenged in those fields compared to the national average.
According to a report by the Education Trust-Midwest, the academic performance of Michigan students is sub-par compared to students from other states. Also, students who pass the Michigan Education Assessment Program would not pass the National Assessment of Educational Progress if tested.
Last month, the Department of Education proposed the Michigan Board of Education re-evaluate the proficiency threshold of the MEAP and Michigan Merit Exam. If a federal bureaucracy has recognized Michigan’s academic assessment for students, administered to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, is allegedly inadequate, then state officials must respond on behalf of students. Public universities must pick up the slack where grade schools and high schools fail.
Nationwide, colleges are also allegedly failing to teach their students necessary reasoning skills, according to studies presented in the book “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses” by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa.
They report 36 percent of undergraduates do not show any significant improvement academically at the cusp of graduation.
University administrators should support the initiative proposed by Phi Alpha Delta, a CMU pre-law fraternity, to implement a legal research and writing course for the law and economics major; however, these classes should not be limited only to a select few.
All CMU students should be able to take advantage of this class if and when it is implemented.
Implementing two new competencies and more real-world focused writing classes would help buffer the inadequate preparation at the grade school and high school education levels, and prevent CMU students from so too becoming “academically adrift.”
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