The College is testing a new half-credit course system this fall

Middlebury College is offering six half-credit courses in a few different departments this fall. Courses are offered either full-time for half the semester or part-time for the full semester. One of the purposes of half-credit courses is to provide students with more flexibility to vary their credit load without adding or removing a full course.

Half-credit courses offered this semester include Reading Islamic Sacred Texts, Early Taoist Texts, Unlearning Colonial Habits, Math Problem Solving, and Cornerstone Experiential Learning. These courses span the departments of Educational Studies, Mathematics, and Religious Studies. The cornerstone of experiential learning is listed as a cross-departmental class.

The courses do not meet the split requirements and only the two religious studies courses count towards the major associated with their department. According to Elizabeth Morrison, professor of religion and member of the Educational Affairs Committee (EAC), other departments will make a decision on which half-credit courses can be considered as the model becomes more widespread. Morrison is also teaching the half-credit course Early Daoist Texts this semester.

Last year, the EAC voted to implement half-credit courses this fall. Although one of the goals of EAC with half-credit courses is to provide students with greater credit flexibility, according to Morrison, the courses also allow professors more flexibility when planning their programs. .

Some professors have taken a previously taught course and adapted it to fit the half-credit model, while others have designed preparatory courses to prepare students for other courses.

“[Early Daoist Texts] is based on a class I previously taught,” Morrison said. “I thought the material would be a really good fit because we’re paying attention to two texts in particular that I think would benefit from slow reading. So I took the previous program, and took things out.

Morrison also noted that the class now weighs more on class attendance than its full-credit version previously did.

Priscilla Bremser, a math problem-solving teacher, thought the half-credit structure would be a great way to address “unfinished learning” in pre-calculus topics that would help students looking to follow calculus. The course is designed to be taken alongside Calculus I to address fundamental pre-calculus topics that may be problematic for students.

“I hope my course will give students with uneven math backgrounds a chance to solidify fundamental concepts so they can be successful in calculus,” Bremser said.

The flexible nature of the half-credit course structure impacts even the content explored in class. Associate Professor of Education Jonathan Miller-Lane, who teaches Unlearning Colonial Habits, was excited to explore new ideas in a space that’s less rigid than the typical course structure.

“The main idea was to explore different time slots, approaches, ideas, with a bit more uncertainty being an acceptable amount,” Miller-Lane said. “I wanted to work on certain ideas, but I wanted to work on them in an environment of deep uncertainty. I liked the idea of ​​exploring other timelines that we can use to explore the questions we’re trying to address. »

Unlearning Colonial Habits student Camiel Schroeder ’25 said he was partially drawn to the course because of its unique structure. As a former student of the professor, he felt that Miller-Lane had well advertised the benefits of a half-credit course.

“He said we were going to do this in a very unique way in that it was just three long meetings on Saturday and then a bunch of meetings of about three hours over meals, which I think is ideal,” Schroeder said. “It didn’t feel like a big commitment for big rewards, academically and experientially.”

Schroeder then informed The Campus that he dropped out of Unlearning Colonial Habits during the second week of school – after his first interview. He said he realized that taking 4.5 classes instead of 3.5 was too ambitious for his fall semester.

Students can still enroll in half-credit courses through September 23.

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About Stuart M. McFarland

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