Course catalog receives a refresh

Course catalog receives a refresh
Photo by Andrew Neel from Unsplash.

As early as fall 2025, the registrar’s office, in conjunction with the curriculum council and department chairs, will revise Augustana’s course catalog to include new course titles and descriptions, as well as a new course numbering system.

According to Joni Krueger, the registrar and assistant vice provost of academic affairs, a lack of available course numbers and confusing curriculum navigation are driving the change.

“We are running out of numbers,” Krueger said. “If a course is offered with a number, you can’t use that number again for a different course, so that makes it kind of challenging.”

Therefore, classes get assigned numbers which don’t necessarily reflect the rigor of the course or the order in which courses should be taken.

“A 200-level course had a prerequisite that was a 300-level, and that didn’t make a whole lot of sense in the big scheme of things,” Krueger said.

Additionally, learning objectives tend to change when new professors inherit courses, but those variations don’t change how the course is listed in the current software system.

Professor Emily Wanless, the curriculum council chair and the government and international affairs department chair, said her class GOVT 220: American Presidency should be listed as a 300-level course.

“The curriculum should be living and breathing, and when we adopt things from our predecessors, that doesn’t always occur,” Wanless said. “This is just largely asking each department to do a refresh on their content for accuracy and transparency.”

In order to accommodate the growing curriculum needs, courses will switch from three-digit codes to four-digit codes.

“A 1000-level course would be, typically, an introductory course,” Krueger said. “A 2000 would be kind of the second level, [and] 3000 to 4000 would be more for students who are juniors and seniors.”

According to Krueger, the second digit in the code sequence will reflect content grouping. For example, the history department may group classes together based on geographical areas, such as Latin American history or European history.

In the current curriculum, courses with -95 endings represent internship courses, -97 endings represent topics courses and -99 endings represent independent studies. Krueger said these codes will carry over to the new system, replacing the second and third digit of a course code.

Additionally, study abroad courses will be more identifiable in the new system. Krueger said the number eight appearing third in a course code could indicate that course is a study abroad course. However, the exact number and placement has not been finalized yet.

“We’re adding a number, and this is…to be determined, so I cannot get too specific, but there will be a place that people can identify if a course is a study abroad,” Krueger said.

The last digit in the new course codes will represent classes that have to be taken sequentially.

“If you should really take Spanish I before Spanish II, it will have those numbers in order,” Krueger said.

Krueger and Wanless created a rubric specifically tailored to Augustana to aid in the renumbering process. They drew on examples for other institutions in creating the rubric and plan to send it to a handful of departments to assess its feasibility.

“It’s gone through several iterations,” Wanless said. “What works for our department and intuitively makes sense to me doesn’t always work for other departments.”

According to Krueger, each department will submit new course numbers by December 2023.

“From there, December 2023 to probably around December 2024 will be really matching courses to numbers and trying to get the final touches on it throughout that year,” Krueger said.

During that time, the registrar’s office will rewrite the catalog along with every degree audit and transcript. Krueger said she believes the current staff will be able to handle the project but will request patience.

“It’s a big project, and it’s going to take time,” Krueger said.

The new numbering system is set to be implemented for fall 2025 registration. In the meantime, Wanless wants to ensure uniformity across campus by reviewing other related course material.

“Professors should also be looking to see that the course descriptions match what’s in the course, what’s in the catalog and what the registrar has on file,” Wanless said.

This task may include adjusting course titles and syllabi.

According to Krueger and Wanless, faculty have been responsive and accommodating throughout this project.

“There is a strong push for this because we want to be more accurate with our students as to the content that they’re getting in the courses,” Wanless said.

According to Krueger, most departments are finding the renumbering process refreshing and have enjoyed reviewing their curriculum.

“It is an opportunity for faculty to just really dive in on their courses and look at who should be taking this, in what order … and to try to help students kind of navigate their way through the curriculum a little bit better,” Krueger said.