We asked students what they thought of the new core curriculum at Xavier University of Louisiana. Here's what they want you to know.
This episode is hosted by Jay Todd, Associate Director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development.
Jay Todd studied writing with Frederick and Steven Barthelme and Mary Robison at the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. His fiction has appeared in journals such as Southern California Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, Fiction Weekly, and 971 Magazine. Since 2007, he has been a member of Department of English at Xavier, where he teaches American Literature, Freshman Composition, Modern English Grammars, and The Graphic Novel and Social Justice. From 2007 to 2010, Dr. Todd served as Xavier's Writing Center Director. From 2010 until 2015, he served as QEP Director, managing Xavier's Read Today, Lead Tomorrow initiative. In 2015, he became the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development's first Associate Director for Programming. As Associate Director for Programming, Dr. Todd assists in providing high-quality, relevant, evidence-based programming in support of CAT+FD's mission to serve faculty across all career stages and areas of professional responsibility.
Dr. Todd is a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, the Popular Culture Association, and the Louisiana Association for College Composition.
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Welcome to episode 84 of Teaching Learning and Everything Else.
My name is Jay Todd and I’m the Associate Director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development at Xavier University of Louisiana.
Regular listeners to the show may remember that last season we ended the episode in which we listened to the voices of Xavier students talking about our then-new learning management system of Brightspace.
To end our current season we wanted to hear what some of our students had to say about another significant change here at Xavier, the new CORE Curriculum we implemented this year.
We spoke to students at the Festival of Scholars, Xavier’s Annual Student research symposium, as well as students who are enrolled in one of our new XCORE Classes. For listeners outside of Xavier, our undergrad students used to have to take 60 hours of general education courses through a highly prescriptive and distributive model. This fall we implemented our new 40 hour core called XCORE. To quickly summarize there are three tiers to XCORE.
The foundation courses, which are taken during the first year of study and focus on developing those skills that are critical to all aspects of education.
The exploration courses, which are taken between the first year and the junior year and expose students to what one of our interviewees calls virtues, things like the examined life, human past and creative expressions.
And finally the engagement courses, which are taken only after completing at least 60 hours of study and are designed to help students integrate their core studies, major studies and minor studies through the analysis of big questions. If you want more details about the structure of XCORE and some of our new classes faculty are developing for it, be sure to check out our show notes.
To begin, let's hear what some of the students had to say about the overall changes to the new core.
Bio Major, Class of 2022
The new core, I think, I’m not too familiar with college requirements and stuff like that, but with the core I do know that what I need to take and it’s like I got to plan for what classes I take each year. So that helps with arranging my schedule and with the XCORE classes, this one, it’s rigorous but it’s also very manageable cause like if I had a class like this next semester, or orgo I feel like I’d be successful in orgo and I’d have enough time to do work for this class. I feel like the workload for this class was nice, it fit in, especially like a science major schedule.
Bio Pre Med Major, from New Orleans, Class of 2022
The new Xavier curriculum, I’ve come in and I heard bad things about it but actually being here being apart of it, I actually like it because it’s preparing me for the future and getting into med school. So that’s why I actually like it.
Music Education Major, Freshman
I feel like the core is a good thing, because it allows for people to graduate a little sooner than before because it was so many more credits you had to take for the old core, and then it’s also kinda weird for someone from different categories to know where everything fits but other than that it’s great for the standard degree.
Psychology Major, 3rd year-2nd year at Xavier
My thoughts on XCORE- the new core I think they are very informative and the classes are honestly very interesting but I would say the classes can be challenging but in a good way they force us to learn things outside of our major which can be used in our everyday life so I think they can be informative but challenging.
Bio Pre Med Major, Senior
My thoughts on the core, well I haven’t really interacted with it, my friends have described the core like process and the classes they are taking it and it seems pretty interesting I can see Xavier going more libral, like actually making classes more interactive with different majors and stuff like that. So that’s pretty cool to have that exchange, that mixture. But yeah I don’t know about the classes but it has a pretty cool title.
Psychology Major - African American Diaspora Studies Minor, Junior
The new core- I was already well along in the old core so I didn’t switch. I do think it’s interesting how they divided by like virtues of life kinda. I think that's interesting than just two philosophy credits you have to take these two specific classes that correspond to you know something important it feels like.
Jay Todd :
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the new core is the creation of the new XCORE courses, classes that aren’t tied to any one discipline. During their first year of college students now take XCORE 1000 in the fall, a one hour class designed to help them transition to college and then in the spring semester they select from a wide variety of sections of either XCORE 1011 or 1012, three hour classes that explore either Xavier’s mission for social justice, or Xavier’s home of New Orleans, to help students develop crucial skills of written and oral communication of critical thinking. As you’ll hear, many students finishing up their first year at Xavier have some very pointed options about the sequence of classes.
Biology Major, Freshman
I enjoyed Xavier’s new core curriculum because it was more hands on than the other one, I learned how to work in groups, I bettered my writing skills and I also learned how to stick to due dates which was important when working in groups.
I think that the new core is pretty good because it helped me a lot when it came down to learning how to research and doing different types of articles and essays. And also help me learn how to work in a group better
Public Health Major - Biology Minor, Freshman
I believe the new curriculum of XCORE is intended to help freshmen transition into college, like their transition into college easier and last semester we just went over the basics such as like calculating our GPA and learning how to schedule our classes for the following semester. For as this semester was more of actual course site, I feel like I learn more thank XCORE 1012 than 1000 because we actually edited articles and we learn more about the city.
Physiology Pre-Med Major, Freshman
My first semester the XCORE 1000 level I felt like they should’ve been more about skills that could help in the future but we were reading a book that some classes read and some classes didn’t and I think that it could’ve been better. But my second semester XCORE class, I had “The City as Text,” I liked that one better, I learned much more about New Orleans as a whole, it’s not just about Mardi Gras and king cakes, I learned about things like the erasure and poverty and a lot of things about the city, like, important things and about the population.
Sociology Major - Public Health Minor, Freshman Transfer Student
XCORE 1000 class compared to this years XCORE 1012 class has been way more interactive on the terms like communicating with one another and going about group work. Last semester we didn’t really connect with one another but I have enjoyed it a lot.
Bio Pre-Med Major, Freshman
What I like about the XCORE classes this semester versus the one last semester, the one from last semester I didn’t really get much versus the one from this semester I learned a lot about New Orleans and Gert Town.
Bio Pre-Med Major, Freshman
I feel that the XCORE 1000 course gave us some benefits but not as much as the second XCORE. I feel like we have to actually learn about or learn things we want to learn about our surroundings. Cause a lot of the XCORE now are about New Orleans so that relevance and what we’re here for and XCORE 1000, it can be improved and like what the curriculum is like what are we learning in this class, like my XCORE 1000 we didn’t really learn much it was just a relaxed class so there was no purpose on going.. But I feel like the XCORE this semester was an improvement
Biology Major, Freshman
Well for me I definitely say that this semester XCORE was better than last because it was more informative, it felt like an actual class whereas last semester it just felt like I was sitting there not really even trying- engaging in class and getting useful information I find it interesting to learn about New Orleans.
Speech Pathology Major, First year but considered a Sophomore
I just wanted to say that the new core is very challenging compared to last semester but overall I think it’s kind’ve better cause it makes us work harder therefore having us to learn more as well so I think overall it’s a good addition
Jay Todd :
For the Xavier class of 2022 there’s no point of comparison, all they know is the new core. As you’ll hear next though a lot of students, especially our sophomores and juniors see it’s liberating them from two year requirements of the old core.
Bio Pre-Med Major, First Year Class of 2022
I’m really excited for the new core curriculum and the many courses I feel like we have a big variety to learn different subjects and learn more about our world and different avenues so that’s why I'm really excited about for next semester and beyond.
Bio Pre-Med Major, Freshman
For the XCORE, I think they should- it’s kinda weird coming from XCORE 1000 to XCORE 1012, because in like, XCORE 1000 we don’t really do anything and to come there you gotta do like a lot of work so it’s kinda like throwing us off track and also for XCORE 1012 classes I think they should have a better variety of classes that we want to take instead of just classes we have to take and also for the core curriculum, as you get older, I like that better than core curriculum as a freshman because they have more choices you can pick from as of what you’re interested in because I'm interested in psychology even though I’m a biology major so I took psychology for my curriculum next semester
Psychological Science Major, Freshman
I like the core, I like the 1000 and 1012 classes I’m in, well, the 1000 class I was in and the 1012 I am in now. I like the fact that with the 1012 and 1011 we were able to choose our classes and kinda the journey we will take on our own, also like the variety of classes we were able to choose from and the cultural diversity that was actually within the choices of classes. With the 1000 class, I felt like it was a great transition from high school to a collision environment, we were still kinda having those gentle conversations but the more they were growing challenging, the book was actually quite interesting because I am a psych major. So I actually enjoyed our new core I look forward to taking my junior classes, my junior XCORE classes. Expecting them to be more challenging but also more explorative.
Pre-Med Major, Freshman
I really like this XCORE compared to the last XCORE because I had a choice to pick something I was actually interested in as far as the history of New Orleans because I live here and I would like to know more about it.
Bio Pre-Med Major, Freshman
In the future I plan to have a class similar and more challenging than this 1012 class because I believe it will help me with my major and I'm learning more about this course.
Bio Chem Major, Senior
I think the new core really provides a good opportunity for students to take classes in things that they like instead of taking courses that seem required or forced them to go in one direction vrs the other. So I think that it’s a very good step for Xavier.
Bio Pre-Med Major Chem and Spanish Minor, Junior
I’m not really familiar with the new core because I’m still on the old system and I decide not to switch since I had already taken most of the classes that had gotten eliminated but I do think that it’s beneficial that students don’t have to take two theology two philosophy because I know as a science major those aren’t the classes that I’m really not the most interested in.
History Major, Sophomore
I like the new core because you get more options of what you get to take and you have more elective hours so I like that better that you can have a more flexible degree and not have to waste money on classes that you don’t even wanna take.
Psychology Major, 2nd Year Student
I like the new core, I actually had the option to switch in between the new core from the past curriculum and I actually preferred it because you have more room to take classes that you feel you want to take for fun because one thing I like about college is that you can just take an array of classes that you may not have an opportunity to learn about outside of college and so it gives you more chances to take courses that you just interested in general and they don’t necessarily require you to take as much as you think you’ll need for your major so I actually like it, it has things grouped in and general themes that they want you to take and those can go across like different subjects, like they might have some that cross between sociology and philosophy. You can take different classes that you want.
Bio Pre-Med Major, Sophomore
I was only on the old core for one semester so I switched as soon as I heard about it because like basically the main approach was that you get more hours of classes that you actually wanna take so I definitely signed up for that.
Speech Pathology Major, Class of 2022
So far all my Xavier courses are perfectly fine I really enjoy them, I took NOLA and philosophy this semester NOLA and pharmacy I think. It was a really good course I really enjoyed it and I heard that a lot of other students are switching from the old core to the new core because they also enjoy more flexibility of the core.
Psychology Major, Senior
I wish they had the core for us like earlier I feel like it’s a lot easier and less stressful and you get to play around with your major and things that you like a lot more.
Grad Dec. 2018, STAFF; A Bill Tech
My opinions about the new core, the only thing that I do know is that foreign language is no longer a requirement and I feel like it should be. Because without that requirement I would’ve never taken foreign language here, I took it in high school but I think exposing a person back into a demographic is just putting appreciation to what I guess what spanish speakers have to deal with they have to learn english coming here, I think it’s very important because even my best friend Tyler Kelly she came in and she is Bio Pre-Med but because she had to take that extra spanish she double minored so now she has her minor in spanish which I think is very important. So I think should’ve never been changed in core but I do think the new core allows students to take more classes than what they usually would be able to because of the certain restrictions
As you just heard the most controversial change has been the removal of the foreign language requirement. Under the old core students were required to take two entry level classes of one language. Now there is no specific language requirement just as there are no dispensary requirements. But again as we’ve been hearing a lot more freedom for students to take what they want. And a number of students have used that new freedom to change their major without risking time for graduation
Math Major, Junior going on to Senior
Honestly the new core made things easier especially since I switched majors from engineering major to a math major cause have I kept the old core I probably would’ve been stuck at Xavier for an extra two years, but now I’ll still be able to graduate by the end of my fourth year. I even have extra time to take extra graduate courses because I only have 6 hours as a second semester senior.
Bio-Chem Major switching to Psychology Major, Junior.
I am currently on the new core and it has allowed me to change my major, so I like it, I have a lot of electives now so that’s a good thing
Chem Pre-Pharm Major
I personally like the new core because I feel like, especially XCORE, it gives us a different way to see like what pharmacy really is I feel like people that don’t know if they wanna be in pharmacy or whatever kind of field they wanna go into, it gives them the opportunity to really see what they wanna do. For example NOLA Philosophy of pharmacy, I was able to see that Pharmacy is what I really wanna do by the different topics we had in class, I really think the new core has been amazing.
We’d like to thank all the students who took time to share their thoughts about Xavier’s new core curriculum. If you want more information about XCORE please take a look at our show notes.
As always if you like what you’ve heard please give us a five star review on iTunes, Google Play or your preferred Podcast service and be sure to subscribe to the podcast.
This is the final episode for this season but we will return after September with a great slate of conversations about teaching, learning and everything else.
Thanks for listening.
Transcribed by Jerrica Eaglin.