New ‘models’ affect classes


Matt Smith

Eighteen courses with 600 sections are following a ‘model course’ format to ensure consistency from class to class. Pictured: English professor Wayne Kobylinski with a class.

Amber Nathan, Editor-In-Chief

AACC has created a structure for high-enrollment courses to ensure consistency from section to section.

For 24 courses—including 600 sections—faculty use a common syllabus and follow an outline of basic requirements and learning outcomes.

Most model courses are high-enrollment, 100-level classes, like Computer Technology Applications 100, Communications 111, and English 101 and 102.

So far, 13 departments have created model courses. Because the initiative focuses on high-enrollment classes with 500-plus students, this excludes some departments from participating.

Some high-enrolling courses have lower success rates, according to psychology professor Lori Perez, who helped create the model courses, which she said will increase instruction quality.

The courses are not standardized to “be the same for everyone to teach,” gender and sexuality studies professor Heather Rellihan said, “but rather a collection of ideas that are seen as being useful starting points for people who are teaching a class. They include lots of options.”   

Rellihan said the Model Course Initiative, which includes faculty members who create the courses “is about creating conversations about best practices in teaching. … The model course is … the result of those conversations.”

Fourth-year transfer studies student Brandon Miller said the model course “certainly sounds, at least as an idea, very effective.”  

“They’re caring about the students and trying to make it better for them,” Alexis Torres, a second-year transfer studies student, said.  

Still, some faculty members have expressed concern about losing academic freedom because model courses have a stigma of being rigid structures that teachers must strictly adhere to. 

“Faculty members are rightly concerned about that,” said English professor Wayne Kobylinski, who worked on the courses. “But in the way that they’re being implemented now, I don’t see any problems.” 

The degree to which teachers must adhere to a model course depends on the department.  

“In the English department, our model courses are really meant as … springboards and frameworks to get people started,” professor Margaret Boas said.