In the Sept. 26 editorial “Curriculum auditing is crucial,” The Chronicle Editorial Board addressed an important issue: how Trinity curricular codes are monitored. The editorial was incorrect in its assertion that “there is currently no comprehensive, centralized system to determine which academic courses should be designated as MOI or AOK.” This is one of the primary tasks of the Arts and Sciences Committee on Courses, which evaluates hundreds of proposals for new courses and course changes each year—including requests for Areas of Knowledge and Modes of Inquiry. However, the editorial is correct that to date there has not been a mechanism in place to review curricular codes once they are granted.
This issue has, in fact, been the subject of much discussion in the Courses Committee over the past year, and, last spring, the committee took steps to begin to address this issue. We initiated a process of sending instructors emails calling attention to the codes their upcoming courses carried, asking them to take action to change the codes if these were out of alignment with how the course was currently being taught. We also asked all directors of undergraduate studies to systematically review the codes carried by courses in their departments.
As we take these steps, the committee continues to look for additional, practical mechanisms to promote accurate coding for courses. To that end, the committee was unanimous in its support for the concept proposed in this editorial—to add questions about the accuracy of curricular codes to the end-of-term course evaluations. Because plans are currently underway to move to an online evaluation system and to revise our current course proposal forms to include more specific learning objectives, this is an opportune moment to adopt the idea.
Therefore, the courses committee plans to send a formal proposal to the Arts and Sciences Council to include such questions on the new course evaluation forms. We feel strongly that such data will be a valuable resource to ensure that codes are appropriately assigned. More precise coding will help students choose courses that better contribute to their liberal arts education at Duke. The Committee on Courses applauds the Editorial Board for its initiative and intelligence on a matter of such importance to the University.
Co-chairs, Arts and Sciences Committee on Courses