Students will no longer be required to take English 111 and English 112 due to changes in the English department core curriculum. Instead, students will take a new introductory English course and will then choose one class out of four different 200-level course options.
The current introductory English classes (111, 112 and 190) will be phased out by the end of next summer. All students will be required to take a new course the English department developed called “ENGL 121 Critical Thinking: Literature and Writing.”
For current students, the effect of these changes depends on what requirements they’ve already fulfilled. Students who have taken or who are currently taking English 111 can take one of the new 200-level courses to fulfill the requirement. Students who have taken or are taking English 190, however, will still be required to take a literature class numbered 205 or above.
“Students will come in, and their first course will be English 121, which in some ways at first glance looks a lot like English 190,” said Andrew Scheiber, English department chair. “It’s not exact, but it’s not divided by genre the way English 111 and 112 were.”
After taking English 121, students will be able to choose one of four “Texts in Conversation” courses, numbered 201 through 204. These courses will be more specific and focus on different approaches to literary study, Scheiber said.
Scheiber said the process of developing the new curriculum has taken five years.
“It took us about two years to work through and come up with a proposal and now it’s taken this long for the proposal to get through approval and now into implementation,” Scheiber said.
“To me it sounds like a good idea,” freshman Katie Merle said. “The 121 class should give everyone the basic skills necessary, and then by being able to pick a 200-level class, the student will have the ability to take a class that interests them.”
Senior Danielle Legatt also liked the idea.
“By introducing the different 200-level courses, it sounds like it gives the students a little more time to find out if they like English through a variety of courses, rather than the survey and then poetry course,” she said. “And it exposes them to different styles of English writing.”
Sophomore Jerry Hills is completing his English requirements this semester and said he wishes the requirements had been developed sooner.
“I would’ve liked to have the opportunity to take these different courses instead of being forced into taking the current courses without any other options,” Hills said.
Scheiber said the changes will benefit the English department faculty as well. Professors will have more opportunities to teach specific genres they specialize in.
“Because we’ve got a new core curriculum that the people who are actually currently English faculty or staff members designed, I think there is a good chance that there will be more enthusiasm,” Scheiber said. “Very few people who are here now were here when English 111 and 112 were designed back in ‘92 and ‘93.”
Scheiber said the English department analyzed statistics that showed when the original curriculum was introduced, less than five percent of St. Thomas students brought in college credit, but now more than 20 percent of students come in with credit. He added that English 111 and 112 were designed to be taken consecutively freshman year, but the department found that less than fifty percent of St. Thomas students take them this way.
“I see people who take 112 in the fall semester of their junior year,” Scheiber said. “For something that is designed to be taken in the spring semester of their freshman year, that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but if you are a junior and taking one of the new 200-level courses, that might present a sufficient challenge.”
The English department is excited to implement these changes but still realistic about the challenges, he said.
“We still have a lot of work to do to get ready for it, so bear with us,” Scheiber said.
Maggie Clemensen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.