The college recently announced that the 2017-18 school year will be the last one in which cluster courses will be required for graduation. All students graduating after the current semester are free to dispense with the decades-old qualification.
To clarify, cluster courses are classes that are paired with another class of similar subject matter, with lessons coordinated between the two to maximize the student learning level of the topic and show the relevance of the material to real-world situations. They also were designed to ensure that students received an adequate number of courses in order to ensure graduation.
“It is important to expose students to the perspectives of two different disciplines on the same topic,” said Donna Heald, vice president for academic affairs. “We did our best to check the AGE requirements needed every semester.”
She stated that the decision to discontinue the requirement aspect of the cluster came about during the planning stages for the 2018-19 school year, when administrators realized there was a lack of staff necessary to cover the teaching of every offered cluster course.
“Lots of our faculty who taught clusters were retiring. This year, there just weren’t enough left.” Despite this, Heald noted that clustered classes continue to carry much educational value, citing several campus organizations, such as the Breitbach Scholars, that likely still will require the taking of cluster courses.
Many students have voiced their approval of the decision, citing how making clusters optional has allowed them more flexibility in their class schedules.
Senior James Kappes, though formally graduating at the end of this semester, will be finishing his final class this fall, thus negating the cluster requirement.
“It was hard enough getting all my advanced gen-eds in order. So I was nettled about having to take a cluster too,” Kappes stated.
“Learning that I could avoid it and focus on my remaining classes was a huge relief.”
Cluster courses will continue to be made available in the coming years for those who wish to take them.
Now, however, they can be taken at each student’s discretion. It is hoped that this will strengthen and improve the educational experience of Loras, and allow for an optimal course-system setup.
This article was a part of The Lorian’s “What Du You Think?” feature. Before each issue, a poll will be sent out to the Loras community to be responded at one’s discretion. If one wishes to be selected as a featured quote, then select the box giving the Lorian permission to use your response. Any ideas should be submitted to Lorian@loras.edu.
Due to technological difficulties, articles from the Feb. 15 issue were posted late. The Lorian apologizes for the late update.