Author Topic: Uncrowding the College Curriculum  (Read 14009 times)

Eduardo (Jay) Olaguer

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Uncrowding the College Curriculum
« on: March 27, 2012, 09:54:04 AM »
One of my pet peeves about tertiary education in the Philippines, and this includes the most prestigious private schools, is the combination of paternalism and the one-size-fits-all approach that results in a severely overcrowded curriculum. I'm all for general education and well-rounded graduates, but the intent is not matched by the results. It's hard to be substantially well-rounded if you spend far more time listening to lectures than poring over an intensive reading list. In advanced countries, four courses a semester is a full load, and five is crowded. In the Philippines, six or seven per semester is the rule.

The K+12 educational reform should help address the problem somewhat by removing the need for remedial courses in the first two years, for otherwise most Philippine colleges offer the equivalent of a high school diploma in an advanced country plus the lower tier of disciplinary requirements in foreign universities. But even the elite private schools with students who have the equivalent of foreign high school preparation have diluted curricula due to the emphasis on superficial comprehensiveness over depth and substance. One solution to this is to insist on a high minimum standard of skills, but to give students more flexibility in how they demonstrate competence. Areas of competence should include:

1) rigorous language and writing skills
2) mathematical analysis
3) historical analysis and cultural awareness
4) scientific literacy.

The student should be able to demonstrate any of these by passing a competency exam with or without taking courses, so as to exploit individual strengths obtained either by initiative or from prior experience. If a student feels weak in any of these areas, then he or she should be able to select a course tailored to his or her interests that conveys the necessary information and skills. This would then allow deeper treatment of fewer subjects in actual course work, including longer and richer reading lists in the humanities and more advanced material in scientific and engineering courses.

Eduardo (Jay) Olaguer

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Re: Uncrowding the College Curriculum
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2012, 10:23:16 AM »
As a follow-up to my previous post, I thought I'd qualify what I wrote by stating that I never went to college in the Philippines, so I lack a first hand perspective on the situation. When I graduated from high school in Manila back in 1976, I had two full scholarships to go to a local university, but I was also offered a scholarship to a technical university in the U.S. and so I opted to go abroad instead. I do recall, however, intensively comparing the course catalogues of several schools both in the Philippines and abroad, and drew my conclusions from that experience. I also spent one U.S. summer teaching half a semester at the Ateneo, and also touring different institutions in the university belt (including sitting in on various classes) together with two of my faculty colleagues. Over the years, I have continued to look with interest upon the Philippine education scene, with the help of the Internet.

An issue which I did not address in the original post of this discussion thread is the high cost of books in the Philippines relative to incomes, especially those not printed on cheap newsprint by local publishers. Perhaps this is a major obstacle to raising the quality of Filipino college curricula, as it may be very expensive for students to purchase large batches of reading material as is done at foreign universites, especially in intermediate courses in the humanities. Maybe this is why institutions would rather rely on more classes with lectures than fewer courses with more reading and small group discussion.

Molie22

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Re: Uncrowding the College Curriculum
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2012, 09:56:00 AM »
Nice post ! I learn a lot of information from this post .
Thank for the effort you took upon this post so thoroughly.
I look foreword to your future post .

Keesha951

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Re: Uncrowding the College Curriculum
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2013, 07:34:13 PM »
Great job.