A Step Forward or a Step in the Wrong Direction?

25/11/2013 18:12

How is having those 18 courses a term working out for you? Wouldn’t choosing what courses you have to take and when you have to take them make your life a bit more enjoyable and less stressful? What about those 1-credit courses? If you’re studying translation and interpreting, wouldn’t you prefer to study more translation and interpreting courses and have them be worth more credits?

 

At the moment, the suggestions above might not seem possible, but in a few years’ time there are those at the Department who hope to make them a reality. As you may have already heard, the Department has proposed a solution to what ails the current system and is developing a new study programme that will be more centred on each student’s desired education instead of requiring every student to manage 12 to 18 courses a term that cover everything from the Beat generation to Old English pronunciation.

 

Ideally, a student in the new system will have at least 6, but no more than 8, courses a term. While most courses now require students to attend one 90-minute class a week, most courses in the new programme will meet twice a week for 90 minutes and will be worth 4 to 6 credits each. If you are a 1st-year student of English and Spanish, your week could look like this:

 

 

Based on the approved accreditation requirements for the programmes the Department offers, students in both the BA and MA programmes will choose courses from three modules (fields of study):

(1) Language and Linguistics

(2) Literature and Culture

(3) Primary field: Translation and Interpreting or Methodology (for those in teacher training).

In the BA programme, students will be required to get a total of 60 credits (about 20 from each module) in order to complete their studies. In the MA, the total is 40 credits, half of which are from the student’s primary field.

 

In the BA programme, each module will have one 6-credit, compulsory, first-year introductory course.  The primary field modules - Translation/Interpretation and Methodology - may have more compulsory courses. The other two modules, particularly at the BA level, may require students to collect a certain number of credits in each field, but it will be up to each student which courses they choose. For example, the LitCult module may require students to choose at least one Literature Survey course and one Cultural Studies course, but it is up to each student to decide which literature they would like to study (i.e. BritLit, AmLit, CanLit or AuLit) and which English-speaking culture they would like to focus on (i.e. Britain, the United States, Canada or Australia). By the end of their BA studies, each student will have taken about 12-16 courses in English and collected about 20 credits from each module. As stated above, MA students will need at least 20 credits for courses in their primary field and 20 credits for courses in language, literature and culture. There will be no required courses in the MA except for a course in simultaneous interpreting.

 

It may look like students will have plenty of free time and that the new programmes will be a piece of cake. In fact, students really may have more free time to pursue their personal academic interests or hobbies (which is good as everybody should have time to relax and enjoy themselves), but the Department will still require students to learn and study on their own. University studies are not only about time spent in the classroom, but also about self-study. Therefore, the Department will decide on how much reading and written homework each course can require so that every course with the same number of credits will have more or less the same requirements. The idea is not for students to work less but to be able to focus on the coursework. That is close to impossible in the current programmes where students have 12 to 18 courses a term. Six to eight courses a term should be much more manageable.

 

The Department has been working on this simplified system for the past several months. Of course, introducing such a system requires a change of mindset as it means the Department is going to produce graduates who will not be well-read in both British and American literature, who will not have taken all of its courses in linguistics, and who will not have had to specialise in both translation and interpreting. But the question is whether we are producing such all-knowing graduates now.

 

There are those of us at the Department who strongly believe that having students assume the responsibility for managing their studies is a step forward. It is a step that will bring us closer to those universities that Slovak government officials say should be examples to follow. It is a step that might bring our Faculty a competitive advantage as no other study programme like it currently exists in Slovakia.  It is a step that recognizes that students have different talents and needs, and makes it possible for them to develop and satisfy these. But it may just as well be a step in the wrong direction. You decide. And let us know what you think.

 

Lucia Otrísalová

Lynda Steyne

Comments

Date: 25/11/2013

By: Milan Kancian

Subject: The Idea

This idea of us making decisions about our specialization is really awesome. And since you mentiond that there is no other study programme like this anywhere in Slovakia it gets even better. If it is possible is there a way that students can support this ??? Some sort of petition or something like that. It would be cool if we could do something like this to help you our teachers and colleagues. :)

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