Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Big Switch was rushed, but got done

In the past year, almost every department at Cleveland State University has had to revise its curriculum from the ground up. In a series this semester, the Stater will look at some of the changes.
For the last issue this semester, we talked to University Curriculum Committee Chairman Billy Kosteas and member Nigamanth Sridhar, and asked how the Big Switch went overall.
Kosteas, a Department of Economics professor, said the Big Switch went fairly well. But he said everything was very rushed. Because of that, the UCC had to approve some proposals it normally would have sent back for a closer look.
"If we were given a reasonable amount of time, we really could have given a lot more scrutiny to each of the proposals and done things properly," Kosteas said. "But we weren't allowed to do that."
Kosteas said he and other faculty members advised against the tight schedule. He said even if the UCC had an extra year, the change still would have been rushed.
"Everybody who knows curriculum and curriculum change," Kosteas said, "everybody top to bottom agrees that the timeline was a huge mistake."
There's a perception among many faculty members that the Board of Trustees ignored their advice in setting the schedule.
But as the Chairman of the Board, Robert Rawson, was out of town, The Stater could not reach him for comment.
Kosteas said any problems in the courses will be ironed out over time--the problem has been advising. Ideally, academic advisers should have started preparing students a year ahead of time. But the university only finished planning the switch this year.
"That's the reason why universities take their time doing these things," Kosteas said. "You need to give students time to make the changes to their schedules."
He said the university is trying to avoid making students take extra courses. But on the other hand, if it waives too many requirements, students might not get everything they need.
"That's actually the bigger concern, I think," Kosteas said.
Sridhar said transition advising has gone well--more than two thirds of students have already seen an adviser. Kosteas said the UCC expects students who haven't seen advisers yet to do so when they schedule for fall 2014.
"Message to the student community: if you haven't seen your adviser yet, please go see your adviser," Sridhar said. "Don't risk having to take extra courses."
The switch has also been hard on faculty. Sridhar said that every faculty member at Cleveland State faced challenges during the conversion process, in many cases at the cost of their research.
"Things have definitely taken a hit," Sridhar said. "Scholarship has taken a hit. If you just look at my own case, I haven't had the time to be as productive as I usually am in terms of producing papers and doing research, because I just haven't had the time."
UCC members had it particularly hard. Sridhar said that during the change, each department wrote a course conversion packet, which it reviewed and then sent to its college Curriculum Committee. After that, the packets came to the UCC.
The UCC went through the packets looking for a 25 percent reduction in the content of each course (to match with the loss of one hour). It also checked that courses still fill the same roles.
"If it's a course from the math department, and I'm an electrical engineer, I can't tell them 'this is what you should be doing,'" Sridhar said. "But if the course had WAC status, does the course still meet all the requirements? That sort of thing."
After that, the UCC looked at how programs changed from a 128-hour standard to a 120-hour standard. The Faculty Senate also looked at the course conversion packets and program conversions.
The UCC didn't review the departments' transition plans--the provost convened a committee called the Transition Team to do that.
Sridhar said that while the process has been difficult, departments all met their deadlines, and faculty did well getting it done.
"I think the process has been difficult, but it's gone through," Sridhar said. "There's been a lot of work at various levels. As a university community, the faculty has come together really well and put this thing together."
He said the UCC expects two or three more years of leftovers from the Big Switch. It will also start a comprehensive review of Cleveland State's General Education courses, to make sure they still meet their criteria.
But Kosteas said that next year will probably be a quiet one in curriculum changes, because the university will try to avoid having students operating on three different catalogs.
Now that the curriculum change is winding down, Kosteas said he hopes to get back to working on his research.
"The last year and a half has been so draining," Kosteas said. "I think I need a few weeks. Once the semester's done, it'll be a lot easier to get back into the rhythm."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Men's golf finishes strong in Memphis

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Cleveland State University’s men’s golf team competed at the Memphis Intercollegiate on Monday and Tuesday this week, coming in eleventh place out of 15 teams.
Cleveland State had its best result from senior Andrew Bailey, who tied for an individual third place.
“After an extremely rough start to the event, we played quite well in the last two and a half round,” said Steve Weir, men’s golf head coach. “Andrew Bailey stepped up and played really well, finishing third individually in a very deep field.”
The Vikings’ Horizon League rivals, the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies, came in fifteenth place.
The tournament kicked off a busy April for the Vikings. They’ll travel to Columbus and Detroit. At the end of the month, they’ll play in the Horizon League championship at Howey in the Hills, Fla.
“If we play well, we like our chances,” Weir said. “But the Horizon League tournament will come down to us taking care of the small things, both in our preparation over the next 24 days as well as when we tee it up April 25 to 27.”

Big Switch 5: Psychology department hopes splitting stats course will improve student success rates

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In the past year, almost every department in Cleveland State University has had to revise its curriculum from the ground up. In a series this semester, the Stater will look at some of the changes.
This issue, we talked to professors Kathleen McNamara and Mike Horvath from the Department of Psychology. McNamara is the chair of the department, and Horvath is the undergraduate program coordinator.
They said that by the time the Big Switch began, the Psychology department had already made large changes to its curriculum. These came into effect in fall 2013. McNamara said carrying out the fall 2013 revision laid a lot of the groundwork for the Big Switch.
“Most of what we did, we did a year early,” Horvath said. “Then during the transition, we adapted that to three credits.”
The biggest change that students will see from the fall ‘13 revision and the Big Switch is a change in the department’s statistics requirement—in the past, students were required to take PSY 311, Behavioral Science Statistics.
But PSY 311 was a challenging course for psychology majors, and students from many other departments also took it.
“It is one of the courses in psychology that has a higher student non-success rate than we like,” McNamara said. “It’s one of our more challenging courses for students.”
The department decided to divide PSY 311 into two different, three-credit courses—courses which will now be called PSY 217 and PSY 317. They hope that the new courses will increase the student success rate.
“We’re covering what we’ve tended to cover in the past in more depth,” Horvath said.
In the fall ’13 change, the psychology department also made some changes to their capstones—students will be able to take either PSY 412, a lab course that will give them hands-on experience, or PSY 415, which will familiarize students with psychological research.
Students will take more elective courses in the new model, but about the same number of credit hours. The undergraduate psychology major, which used to be 40 credit hours, will now be 42.
Horvath said that the department has some challenges—there are three different sets of requirements ‘in play.’ There’s the pre-fall ’13 catalog, the four-credit-hour fall ’13 catalog and the three-credit-hour catalog after the Big Switch. With a combination of four and three-credit courses, some students may wind up with odd numbers.
“If you have 38 hours as a result of the transition, we will waive [the remaining] two hours,” Horvath said.
Horvath said that when the Big Switch came around, there was a lot of work Cleveland State faculty had to do very quickly. But the psychology department had time to think it through, since they did a lot of the thinking before the fall ’13 revision.
“I don’t think the changes in psychology are anything other than carefully thought-through and planned,” McNamara said.
Note: The print version of this story contained an error. Due to a typo, "success" was misspelled as "sucess" in the headline.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Big Switch 4: International business streamlines core courses, adds electives

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In the past year, almost every department in Cleveland State University has had to revise its curriculum from the ground up. In a series this semester, the Stater will look at some of the changes.
This issue, we talked to Professor Ashutosh Dixit, the director of the International Business program at Cleveland State. Dixit said that the changes to the program haven’t been too drastic, but the department has tried to streamline the core of it.
“Now the core is much more straightforward,” Dixit said. “That’s a strength. By reducing the courses in the core, there are a lot more options in the electives now.”
The International Business program has changed its foreign language requirement (8 credits) to a prerequisite. Students can fulfill the prerequisite with high school classes or college classes.
In the old plan, students were required to take two courses from the Modern Languages department. The requirement is still the same, but students who finished the work in high school won’t have to take those classes here.
“[Students] will still need to have at least two courses in a foreign language,” Dixit said. “So it’s not going away, it’s just that there’ll be a little more flexibility for the students.”
Dixit said that the core of the program is much more straightforward. In addition to the core for Business students, International Business students will take INB 301 International Business, and INB 495 Consulting (INB 495 used to be INB/MKT 495, but now it’s only an International Business course).
Students will also have to take an international business experience course—this is either an internship with an international company or a study abroad course.
“There’s a course that we have in England, and then there are the short trips, the International Study Tours,” Dixit said. “These are going to France, Abu Dhabi, China, South Korea, Belgium and the Netherlands. So they’re going to several countries.”
Dixit said that after the conversion, students in International Business will take eight different electives (up from four in the past).
Students can choose from a list of international courses offered by other business departments from Marketing to Operations Management. Dixit said that the International Business program is very interdisciplinary, and that the list of electives will grow with time.
“We’ll think in terms of how to strengthen the program in the future,” Dixit said. “Right now, it’s a very good program, and we’ll keep on working on it.”
He said that knowing about international business will become more important for students in the future.
“The whole society is changing to become a more global society, and there is nothing that’s not global now,” Dixit said. “This is something that our students will have to face in the future.”
Cleveland State urges students caught in the middle of the big switch to check the Grad Express Degree Audit on CampusNet, and see an academic advisor before registering for next semester.

Lady Vikings end season with 2 losses

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The women’s basketball team finished their season the weekend before spring break, with a regular season loss to Youngstown State and a narrow defeat in the Horizon League quarterfinals versus UIC. 
After the two losses, the Vikings end their season at 14-16.
“This season will leave us with a feeling of unfinished business,” said Coach Kate Peterson Abiad, “and motivate our players to prepare in the off-season to compete for a championship in 2014-15.”
Against YSU, the team saw a lot of good offense--junior Cori Coleman led the Vikings with 22, and three other players were in double digits.
But despite the Vikings’ best efforts, the Penguins held their lead throughout the game.
After that, the Vikings, 5th seed in the Horizon League, played the 4th-seeded UIC Flames. UIC scored the first 15 points, but the Vikings fought back to as close as 65-66.
Leading the team in scoring was junior Imani Gordon with 22 points, and freshman Olivia Voskuhl with 15. Voskuhl didn’t miss all night. 
Cleveland State shot better from the field, but the Flames had 40 rebounds, 18 on offense, compared to the Vikings’ 28.
The Vikings fought hard, only down 70-72 with 12 seconds left on the clock--but the Flames were able to hold on to their lead at the free throw line and finish up 77-72.
Cleveland State’s Imani Gordon was named to the First Team All-Horizon League, and freshman Khayla Livingston to the Horizon League All-Freshman team.
“I wish we could get started on next season right now,” said Abiad. “We have a real feeling of dissatisfaction and a real desire to get back on the court and compete.”

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Big Switch 3: Modern Languages to try new courses, time blocks

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In the past year, almost every department in Cleveland State University has had to revise its curriculum from the ground up. In a series this semester, the Stater will look at some of the changes. 
This issue, we talked with Professor Tama Engelking, the chair of the Department of Modern Languages. She also sits on the University Curriculum Committee, which is overseeing the university-wide change. 
“When we reconfigured our majors, it was a good opportunity to add a couple things in and change a few things,” Engelking said. 
Modern Languages had made changes to its two majors--French and Spanish--that will give students more knowledge about foreign cultures. 
Engelking said that in the Spanish major has combined a Latin American literature and a Spanish literature class into one, and they have changed degree requirements so that students will take both SPN 345 on the society and culture of Spain, and SPN 346 on the society and culture of Latin America. 
“[Students] used to have to just take one civ [cultural class]--either Latin American or Spanish civ,” Engelking said. “Now they take one of each, so there’s more emphasis on civ.” 
Spanish has also added one credit of outside-the-classroom work near the end of the degree track in SPN 496--students can tutor, do service learning, or work on some personal project. 
In the French major, Modern Languages has added an entirely new culture class--FRN 346, “Modern France from WWII to Today,” which will teach students about contemporary French culture. 
Engelking said that the introductory, first and second-year courses in the Modern Languages department didn’t need to make the change to three credits, because the state standard is for these classes to be taught in four credits. 
“Predominantly around Ohio, those courses are a mixture of five, four and three credits, with four being the dominant model,” Engelking said. “So all of our first and second-year courses are still four credits.” 
Strangely, keeping these classes four-credits has caused problems for the Modern Languages department with Cleveland State’s new block scheduling. The department has had to request new blocks of time. 
While at some big universities, the standard for language courses is for students to come five days a week, that model has never been in place at Cleveland State. The Modern Languages department will be trying classes in two, three, and four-days-a-week blocks. 
“The new schedule is set up to accommodate three credits,” Engelking said. “It was hard to try to fit our classes into that new schedule.” 
Engelking said that the department might also try to move some more work online in a “flipped classroom.” 
“The idea is that you have the students do a lot more of what’s usually taught in class online,” Engelking said. “There are grammar explanations that they can listen to over and over until they get it, and then when they actually come to class, it’s more interactive, [and focused on] using the language.” 
The other major challenge that the department faced was moving its capstones from four to three credits. But in each case, there is a study-abroad version of the capstone available. Engelking said that these classes will stay at 4 credits--because they’re not happening at Cleveland State, they are exempted from having to make the change. 
If students take their capstone course at Cleveland State, in Spanish they’ll take a 1-credit capstone plus a 3-credit 400-level course. In French, they’ll take a 3-credit capstone course. But Engelking said that most French students choose to take their capstone abroad. 
Engelking said that the Modern Languages department has worked on trying to get students to minor or double-major in a language, especially if they’ve done some of the necessary work in high school. She said that its very easy for students studying abroad to get a language minor. 
“Too often,” she said, “I think advisers say, ‘Oh, you had 3 years of Spanish in high school?’ Check, you don’t have to take it anymore,’ rather than saying, ‘Oh, are you considering building on that, making it a minor or a double major?’” 
Engelking said that she’s interested to see how the new courses are going to work out in the classroom next year. She said that in the future, the Department of Modern Languages is hoping to add Italian and Chinese minors.
There wasn't space in the story, but Dr. Engelking also said that the department hopes to build up its Japanese program, and it will offer Hungarian classes next year.

Men's tennis wins as women fall short

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The men’s and women’s tennis teams both faced double-headers last weekend at the Paramount Tennis Club in Westlake--the men took home two authoritative wins on the weekend, beating both Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne and Oberlin, while the women fell to Bowling Green and Toledo. 
The men’s team beat IPFW 6-1, and closed out Oberlin 7-0. 
“Last weekend was a good match. They fought hard, but we stayed one step ahead,” said Brian Etzkin, the coach of Men’s and Women’s Tennis. 
Against IPFW, the doubles team of Ali Shabib and Joe Vanmeter won an 8-1 match, helping Cleveland State roar out of the gate. Matt Kuelker and Manuel Bellutti won a much closer match, 8-6. Cleveland State players took all but one of the singles wins. 
With the win against Oberlin, the Men’s Tennis team brought their score on the season to 5-4. 
Senior Matt Kuelker had a lot of success last weekend--against both IPFW and Oberlin, he played in a winning doubles team. He also picked up singles wins against both teams. Kuelker won the 70th singles match of his college career. 
“Matt has played all over the top half of the lineup for the last thre years,” Etzkin said. “He could move up a few more spots on the all-time win list.” 
The women’s tennis team continues to struggle--they lost against Bowling Green 1-6, though they came very close to taking the doubles point--it came down to a 7-8 defeat in the third match. In singles, sophomore Mathilde Orange picked up the team’s only point. 
The next day against Toledo, women’s tennis lost 2-5. Freshman Lauren Golick, coming back from an injury, got one of the Vikings’ points. The other one came from another freshman, Princess Gbadamosi. 
Most of the matches were close, but after the weekend women’s tennis has a score of 1-7 on the season. 
“The women aren’t 1-7 for lack of effort,” Etzkin said. He said that the womens’ team has had trouble with injuries and illness--but recently, they’re starting to recover. 
“Today might be day one moving forward,” Etzkin said.
Cleveland State’s tennis teams will both play next on Feb. 28, in Saint Louis, Missouri.