37.5 Course Flexibility

ADC Report on Greater Flexibility of Course Offerings at Undergraduate Level

In the course of discussions within the Academic Development Committee concerning the development of interdisciplinary studies at the University the question of flexibility of course offerings at the undergraduate level arose.  It was suggested that there was a need felt among some students to have a greater selection of courses to make up their degree programs.  These students did not want degrees made up of completely unrelated courses since in most cases a pattern or a direction would emerge from the courses they chose.

The Committee felt that the possibility should be looked at of finding new combinations of courses that would make meaningful patterns of study for students who wished to have a wider range of courses from which to choose.

In order to determine the existing degree of flexibility amongst Faculties and Departments in the offering of courses at the undergraduate level, the Academic Development Committee asked the Office of Institutional Research and Planning to carry out a study of this matter.  The preliminary Report Describing Course Flexibility and Interdisciplinary Studies at the Undergraduate Level, dated November 1971 is available in the Office of the Secretary.  The general conclusion of the Preliminary Report is that students' freedom to take options outside the Faculty in which they are registered varies widely depending on the Faculty with which the students are affiliated and the degree program in which students are enrolled, as follows:

1.     in some professional Faculties the programs are structured to educate students for relatively specific occupations.  Their programs, therefore, tend to have a high proportion of required courses and in some of these Faculties there are few options;

2.     in the Faculties of Arts and Science the student has greater freedom in designing a program, but must normally restrict choices to the offerings in these two Faculties.  Honors programs which are designed to provide depth in a non-applied area, indirectly limit the number of options by requiring many courses in the area of specialization;

3.     faculties in which the educational goals combine applied and basic education allow the greatest flexibility, since students have considerable freedom to choose options of both types.

Having considered the Preliminary Report, the Academic Development Committee has concluded:

1.     that flexibility of course programming is the first step to interdisciplinary studies;

2.     that restrictive regulations should be relaxed where possible in order to enable students to choose more freely from the course offerings of various Faculties.

The Academic Development Committee therefore recommends:

1.     that Departments be asked to re-examine the number of required courses their students must have in their major field of study before the Department would approve the program as, for example, a degree in Physics or a degree in History;

2.     that Departments be asked to re-examine their total programs, with particular emphasis on prerequisites and other restrictions to enrolment, whether or not they are actually legislated;

3.     that the Faculties of Arts and Science be asked to re-examine the reasons for the restrictions in allowing credit for courses taken in other Faculties, with a view to easing the restrictions;

4.          that in order to make more options available in practice, provision be made in university scheduling to make this possible;

5.     that Faculties be encouraged to provide adequate counselling to assist students in the selection of courses or programs best designed to meet their interests;

6.     that Faculties be prepared to inform the Academic Development Committee as to their progress in implementing the recommendations of the Committee.