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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Students to solve mysteries, operate telescopes in new honors gen-ed classes”

    The Honors College’s curriculum will look a little different when UA students start their fall semester classes.

    The college will introduce two non-traditional general education classes, which are part of a series intended to engage honors students beyond the lecture hall.

    While the classes will still be defined according to the usual NATS, TRAD, and INDV categories, they will all revolve around a common theme that students will explore in a way that is relevant to each course. This year’s theme will be “”memory.””

    This new kind of exploration, administrators emphasized, will not only involve the traditional classroom apparatus of texts, homework and exams, but will also feature a variety of interactive tasks and events, including flash mobs, hidden Web sites and Twitter.

    These new classes should be considered “”‘hybrid courses,’ since they are not exclusively online, nor are they like traditional classes. Instead they try to bring the best of both in the attempt to provide an interdisciplinary education to students,”” said Dr. Laura Berry, assistant dean of the Honors College and head of the current initiative.

    One such course, a TRAD 104 entitled “”Honors Quest,”” will feature the texts of a long line of illustrious writers and thinkers, such as Socrates, Plato and Shakespeare, but will also allow students to interact with these texts in a more participatory manner.

    “”The students might be reading Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved’ during a unit on slave culture. But outside of class, the student might be assigned a set of clues, or a task such as identifying a particular artist whose music evolved out of this heritage,”” Berry said. “”Then, instead of a paper, the student might be asked to locate a real Web site where this information would be useful and write a posting.””

    The “”Honors Quest”” course will look at memory from a cultural and social perspective, said Professor Jerry Hogle, who will be instructing the TRAD 104 class.

    Along with classic readings that span the course of Western civilization, the class will “”also have a comprehensive problem for the students to investigate,”” he said.

    The classes will be structured according to an “”alternative narrative”” that will feature both real and virtual components. “”The students will not only read texts, but will have a mystery to solve,”” Hogle said. “”They will be asked to take certain avenues, to solve a problem. Then they will meet with preceptors to discuss what they found out.””

    Along with the TRAD 104 class, a tier one NATS course will also be available for honors students. In a special section of NATS 102, students will receive intensive instruction in astronomy, and will split into groups of three to meet with a faculty member and develop a research question to eventually produce a final research project.

    In addition to this intensive research, Berry said, “”every student will go to Mount Lemmon for a weekend and use telescopes to collect data. They will also work on laptops in Steward Observatory to operate a telescope in New Mexico.

    “”It is not about more work,”” she said. “”The courses are structured in such a way that students will think more deeply and intensely about a subject.””

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