SF State overhauled its 35-year-old General Education requirements and will begin next Fall with a new system that doesn’t include segments 1, 2, and 3. The change will not affect students who are currently enrolled.
Incoming freshman and transfer students will not see segments 1, 2 and 3 when they register for GE courses but instead will see courses divided between categories A, B, C, D and E, each covering a general area of study. The University will also lower the 57 required GE units to 48 to make graduation more attainable for students, according to General Education Director Nancy Gerber.
“Segment 1, 2 and 3 is something we made up 35 years ago,” said Gerber. “This is a big undertaking because everyone is used to the current program.”
Segment 3 will face the most substantial changes. GE courses will be divided among nine topical perspectives, or domains of knowledge and inquiry less specific than segment 3’s clusters. Students choose upper division courses under one category, which could be “creativity, innovation and convention,” “environment interconnections” or “social justice.
SF State is the only California State University that does not categorize their GE courses under sections A, B, C, D and E. The change will align the university’s GE with most California colleges and universities and make transferring to SF State a simpler process.
Gerber describes the new GE as a “learning outcome based system.” Faculty will design their courses according to the knowledge students are expected to leave with. This, Gerber says, is a major improvement from the current system, where courses are based on a vague, paragraph-long course description.
“We want faculty to start thinking about, ‘What do I want my students to know, and how do I design my class so that it leads my students to being able to do these things?’” said Gerber.
Every department must reapply their GE courses for approval to the new system. Departments that have a lot of GE courses, like philosophy, Asian-American studies and English, are affected the most by the changes.
The philosophy department received approval for their 31 GE courses and a number of new ones. Still, Philosophy Department Chair Anita Silvers is concerned that other departments may not be able to provide enough courses for the new program.
“I’ve been at San Francisco State for over 50 years, so I’ve seen a lot of general education programs,” said Silvers. “This one’s going to be very complicated.”
Asian American Studies chair Lorraine Dong anticipates that the initial confusion and loss of an AAS cluster will cause a decrease of enrollment in the major’s courses. But, AAS can attract students back to their GE courses using what Dong calls the “two for the price of one degree package”.
“If students take our AAS GE-qualified courses to fulfill their GE graduation requirements, not only will they almost finish their GE requirements, but they will almost finish the requirements for an AAS major,” said Dong. This means a student can easily graduate with a double major in AAS and another department.
According to Gerber, SF State has been working toward a new GE system for 25 years.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” said Gerber. “It’s a more cohesive program than it was and I think switching to the learning outcomes is going to be much clearer to the students and the faculty.”