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General education system and implications on students’ development

Before a student of the University can acquire a diploma and graduate, he or she needs to take General Education (GE) and major courses. As insignificant as GE courses seem, some inflict the same significance associated with major courses to the academic standing of students.

Compliance to requirements

As a university governed by the rules and policies of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), DLSU shall operate under the mandates and guidelines set by the body. The general education system of the University is formulated in compliance with CHED Memorandum No. 4 Series of 1997. It imposes a minimum number of units of GE courses in the curriculum.

In the said memorandum, it states that “all students majoring in the humanities, social sciences and communication shall follow the General Education Curriculum A (GEC-A). The GEC-A consists of six units of English courses, six units of Filipino ourses and nine units of Humanities subjects.

On the other hand, for the programs that are not categorized under the mentioned fields, compliance with the GEC-A is not mandatory. These, instead, follow GEC-B, which requires six units of Mathematics subjects, six units of Natural Sciences courses and a three-unit elective.

The University practices both types of curriculum, but the GE courses are not standardized for all colleges.

According to Dr. Brian C. Gozun, Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business (RVR-COB) Dean, the college adopts the GEC-B; likewise, the College of Computer Studies (CCS), College of Science (COS), Gokongwei College of Engineering (GCOE) and School of Economics (SOE) employ the same GE curriculum.

The College of Education (CED) and the College of Liberal Arts (CLA), however, pattern their curricula on the GEC-A. As an implication, more GE courses are offered to the said colleges as compared with the other colleges.

For instance, the course Science, Technology and Society (SOCTEC1 and SOCTEC2) is unique to CCS, COS, and GCOE, while Introduction to Political Science (POLISCI), Introduction to Anthropology (INTHROP) and Introduction to Psychology (NTROPSY) are offered only to CED, CLA, RVR-COB, and SOE.

Moreover, Critical Thinking (CRITHIN) and Philosophy of Person (PHILOPE) are only offered to students taking a Bachelor of Arts (AB) degree program.

College of Liberal Arts Vice Dean Dr. Feorillo Petronilo Demeterio III points out, “Our program is liberal arts, [thus] we put an emphasis on freedom, creativity and other preparatory training for life.”

Given the required number of units of GE courses, the GE Committee determines which courses that should be offered to the respective colleges, which is highly dependent on the relevance of the subjects  to the different degree programs.

The GE system of the University, today, is a product of a core curriculum, the Lasallian Core Curriculum (LCC), which was first presented in 2004.

Implemented during AY 2006-2007, it was premised on the improvement of student learning through “the development of thinking skills, learning competencies, and values.” It also sets the foundation for transformative learning, to complement the revised curriculum.

The LCC divides GE courses into three categories namely: foundational courses, formative courses and integrative courses. Moreover, it proposes that 61.5 units of the aforementioned courses for CLA, RVR-COB, SOE and CED shall be required whereas only 58.5 units are required for COS, COE and CCS.

In contrast, the University of the Philippines (UP), which is not under the supervision of CHED, and is therefore not bound by Memorandum No. 4, requires students to take five subjects under three categories namely: Social Sciences and Philosophy, Arts and Humanities, and Math, Science and Technology.

An issue of overspecialization

As some GE courses are offered to select colleges only, it is inevitable to consider its impact on the learning of the students and on their holistic development.

One specific concern regarding the GE curriculum is the unavailability of basic computer subjects in the COS curriculum. BS in Biology (BS-BIO) and BS in Human Biology (HUM-BIO) programs do not have those courses on their flowcharts. This might be a premise wherein overspecialization comes in.

Kenny Ng (II, HUM-BIO), however, believes that there is no need for such GE courses since his specialization does not require computer proficiency. Instead of having an independent computer course, COS has laboratory courses, which incorporate the use of computers into the lecture.

When asked whether GE courses must be standardized, Charlene Lagamayo (II, AB-ISE) answers that the GE courses that students need to take must be relevant to their future careers. She argues that only those that would contribute to a student’s proficiency on his or her major program should be offered.

Camille Co (II, AB-ISE) thinks the otherwise. “General education courses also help students attain versatile knowledge; it allows students to not be limited to only one area of expertise,”

Dante Leoncini, Philosophy Department Vice Chair and Faculty Association president, admits that the current system may lead to overspecialization, but he furthers that there is a limitation as to the number of GE courses a student can take. It occurs to him that it is a matter of priorities for the colleges.

“All courses are important for a particular major career or program…[but] of course we have to understand that they will have priorities over others,” he ends.

Pilar Go

By Pilar Go

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