Credo honors program undergoes changes

woman speaker - CHASE BODYCredo, Concordia’s honors program, will launch its new research-intensive courses this spring. The program’s new focus brings multiple changes, including the replacement of the old team-taught classes.

Low numbers of students were enrolling in Credo classes, partially due to the lack of course offerings, according to Dr. Susan Larson, program director of Credo. The team-taught structure also made the courses more difficult for professors to schedule. They were not able to offer many courses for this reason.

The solution has been to replace the course structure and add a research focus in order to offer more classes while remaining intensive.

“I think some students were frustrated, and perhaps fairly,” Larson said. “Students may find it easier to stay in Credo now.”

Team-taught classes were single classes taught by two professors from different fields of study. Students would learn about their topic from multiple perspectives. Now one professor will lead students in research-based courses, allowing for more flexible scheduling for both professors and students.

Credo students will also enjoy other benefits, such as early registration, a study abroad experience and opportunities to have discussion time with scholars who come to give lectures.

However, students beginning the program after the fall of 2013 will have to reapply after their Inquiry seminar to continue in the program. Only 44 students will be admitted from each grade.

Sociology professor Andrew Lindner is excited about the opportunity the research component will bring to Credo classes.

“(My class will) take students from being consumers of knowledge to creators of knowledge,” Lindner said.

Larson and the committee in charge of the Credo program’s revisions realized that students with demanding majors have had a difficult time considering the program in the past, but they believe the certification will now be easier to attain.

Credo will offer four courses per semester. This spring a social science, an art and two humanities classes will be offered. The committee also intends to offer a science credit every semester in the future rather than the second humanities course.

Larson hopes these changes will have a large impact as Credo graduating classes are generally very low. Last year, only nine of originally about 88 Credo students completed the program.

Meanwhile, scholars visiting to give lectures will have discussion times with students in the program. Credo students will also have the opportunity to take their own study abroad experience, which is still under development.

Larson believes that courses in research offer a lot of personal and professional learning gains, including clarity of career path, problem solving skills, academic skills and an understanding of literature which reaches beyond a single field of study.

As some Credo students bring in credits toward core, taking Credo courses may mean taking otherwise unnecessary credits. However, Larson believes the learning gains will make it worthwhile.

“There’s a whole host of benefits,” Larson said.

Credo graduate Stephanie Barnhart is not as excited about the changed program.

“It saddens me that there’s no more team teaching,” she said. “I think that was one of the most unique parts about it. You can get (research experience) in any course. It doesn’t seem as unique to me anymore.”

Barnhart, a communications and multimedia journalism major, was able to graduate as a Credo student as she had a major with fewer requirements than others, making her schedule flexible.

She greatly enjoyed being in smaller classes because professors knew exactly where she was coming from. This made it easier to apply the work to her interests.

Barnhart also enjoyed being able to have friendships with her professors. Knowing professors made the class more interesting, though she admits there was a heavy workload.

Barnhart admittedly struggled in a Credo class due to the subject, but she is not convinced that taking a non-Credo class would have made it any easier.

“It did negatively affect my GPA,” Barnhart said, “but I really enjoyed that class.”

Not every student thinks Credo classes are worth the effort. Nikolaj Hagen will graduate in three years, as he came in with credits. If he had continued in Credo he would have needed to take additional classes. Early graduation would not have been feasible.

“I never understood why I should be in it,” Hagen said. “There weren’t that many incentives.”

Though it is difficult to measure any advantages to having taken a Credo class, Larson believes that the lessons learned in the courses are helpful beyond college. She believes the highly-intensive classes aid students in areas beyond their fields.

“(The research aspect) would make it a lot more attractive,” Hagen said.

Barnhart agrees and encourages students to finish the Credo program.

“Stay,” she said. “Finish it – Especially now with this research component. The relationship with a professor is meaningful.”

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