During the March 26 Cal State University Board of Trustees meeting, the Committee on Educational Policy presented strategies to eliminate bottlenecks throughout the CSU system by 2017. We are concerned, however, that the solutions being discussed may be more harmful than helpful.
Seeing as how many of the impacted, or bottleneck, courses tend to be general education classes, incoming and transfer students face an ugly scramble to register for all of the necessary requirements to stay on the graduation track.
Think of a bottleneck course like an overflowing waterbottle, what spills out are students who are left to dry on the pavement.
Some of the strategies discussed in the BOT meeting included implementing more online courses and hiring additional faculty throughout the system.
However, it seems more likely that offering more online courses could serve as a short-term fix.
What we have experienced here at CSULB is that there may be one or two key courses that are prerequisites for upper level classes in our majors.
According to the CSU Bottleneck Survey Report, classes become impacted due to insufficient funding, a lack of qualified staff, time constraints and class room availability, an inability to substitute one class for another, a shortage of seating and too many students retaking a class in order to get a better grade,
The reports shows that 70 percent of CSU students are either enrolled or trying to enroll in impacted classes.
The Board has suggested using the $10 million allocated to the CSU in Gov. Brown’s budget plan to increase the number of online classes made available.
This sounds like a great plan, but we think that the quality of the education in online courses is not even close to that of the traditional student-teacher classroom environment.
We’re also left wondering about why the $10 million will be used to increase online classes when it could be used towards hiring professors for impacted courses.
Although the option for online classes could be great for students with fully booked schedules, there are some subject matters that should stay within a physical classroom setting.
The implimentation of more online classes could work well for reading intensive courses, such as history or english courses.
However, it is dangerous to have a “one size fits all” mentality when it comes to opting for online classes. A professor should physically oversee general education courses such as math or chemistry.
Having a computer screen filled with numbers and formulas sounds like a headache. We can safely assume this doesn’t create a conducive learning environment for the student, as well as the professor who will have to guide students through a keyboard.
There are a total of 1,294 classes across the CSU that are bottle-necked, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. Most of the classes impacted by this effect are from the science and technology department and 300 level classes.
As of now, we support the attempts made towards resolving the bottleneck situation, we just hope that the CSU focuses of the quality of the students’ education rather than pushing them through.