Cross-listing leaves students feeling frustrated

Students may now be shopping for next semester’s classes during advising, but it won’t be until next semester that some realize their classmates may be better or worse prepared than they are.

Certain classes are cross-listed, or listed twice in the Butler University course catalog. The course may be listed under two different subjects or two different call numbers.

This means that for non-major students, a class may have a different level than it has for majors—for example, a 200-level course for non-majors may be listed as a 300-level for majors—raising concerns that course loads may be too challenging for non-majors or not challenging enough for majors.

The core curriculum committee is looking into how the university handles them, Thomas Dolan, biology professor and chair of the committee, said at the Oct. 4 Faculty Senate meeting.

Dolan said approximately half a dozen cross-listed classes have been identified so far.

“The issue is making sure that the course levels really represent the discrepancies,” Dolan said. “Asking, for example, ‘Does this course carry appropriate level of rigor for 300-level course?’”

Junior English literature major Emelia Abbe said she has taken classes in the English department cross-listed as text and ideas classes.

“I think [cross-listed classes] can sometimes be a little frustrating for people who aren’t in that particular program,” Abbe said. “[The frustration] has to do with having to be more meticulous in the way you write and present your arguments because a lot of majors who aren’t in that field don’t have to be so meticulous.”

Junior English major Hannah Stiller currently is enrolled in two cross-listed classes.

“I have to spend much more time going over the information [in these classes] in order to get what I feel is a good grade,” Stiller said. “Even with as much time I spend going over the information, I do not always

achieve the grades I deem as acceptable.”

Butler’s core curriculum is the basic set of classes that all students must take regardless of major. According to the Butler University Bulletin, the core curriculum is “a set of academic requirements embodying our definition of what it means to be a liberally-educated person.”

In order to fulfill the core curriculum, students must take at least one class in each of the five divisions that does not include their major.

“Departments are expected to contribute to the core,” Dolan said. “Some [departments] can do this better than others.”

The cross-listing of courses, Dolan said, is meant to accommodate the limited number of resources and professors at Butler.

“It’s a balancing game in making sure that courses are offered to satisfy major and core contribution requirements,” Dolan said.

Cross-listing allows departments to offer classes to students who are not majors but may be interested in taking a course for core credit. The university’s eight-student minimum means that some classes might not be offered if not for cross-listing, especially in smaller departments.

“It’s only a positive for students,” Dolan said.

Abbe said she recognizes this.

“I think [cross-listing] is a good thing because it helps you develop as a writer,” Abbe said.

However, Stiller said that some adjustments need to be made to cross-listed courses.

“The professors of cross-listed classes need to be aware that their class is catering to more students than those in that major,” Stiller said. “They need to make sure that they don’t assume that all students will have background knowledge of the subject.”

Dolan said that the level of the course is what is listed in the core curriculum.

For students worried about potentially having problems, Dolan said that there is no need for such concerns.

“There is a curriculum review process, and all questions are tended to in this process,” Dolan said. “The focus here is on taking care of students.”

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