What Abilities Will We Improve Through New Change?
What Abilities Will We Improve Through New Change?
  • Kang Kim Hyojung ,Kim Jang Yunsun
  • 승인 2023.04.03 09:57
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Noonsong, who failed to take the Critical Thinking and Discussion class, received a message from SMWU one day. It was about the reorganization of SMWU's 2023 compulsory classes. According to the message, as the Critical Thinking and Discussion class will be closed, students who have not yet taken it should do so by 2024. However, she planned to apply for a leave of absence for a year due to work outside of school and take those classes in 2025, just before her graduation. Accordingly, she became stressed out as her plans went awry.


Questions arise over the school

General education courses are aimed at cultivating the knowledge and abilities of students that the school regards as necessary, and all students must take them for graduation. SMWU has designated Critical Thinking and Discussion, Thinking and Academic Writing, Global Citizenship and Leadership, Career Exploration and Competence Development, Logical Thinking and Software classes and the Academic and Communicative English classes as required before 2023. Among them, the Critical Thinking and Discussion class aims to improve communication skills through discussion by acquiring critical thinking skills. The Thinking and Academic Writing class aims to improve students' academic writing skills. However, those two subjects which were two credits each will be integrated into a three-credit course called Digital Literacy for Thinking and Communication from 2023. In response, Cho Jaein, Division of Chinese Language and Literature '21, said, "I could learn public speaking and how to write papers through the two general education classes, but now it will be difficult to learn each clearly." There are some concerns about whether the new academic curriculum will improve students' academic skills to learn through the existing courses.
Meanwhile, the school announced that it would increase the Logical Thinking and Software class from two credits to three credits. It implies that the school regards it as important by expanding the credits. This class has been in operation since 2020 and aims to improve students' operating principles of software and computer problem solving skills. Regarding the expansion of credits, Kim Yeonseo, Division of Economics '20, said, "There was a lot of controversy over whether to open the subject, and it will be changed into a three-credit course. Since the school didn't account for the reorganization, I wonder if there was enough discussion and consideration about the situation of each." It seems that the school failed to reflect the opinions of students who should comply with the general education course. Also, there is no detailed explanation about the background of the reorganization on the SMWU official website. According to the notice "2023 General Course Reorganization" by the Office of Academic Affairs, the course changes are stated, but there was no mention of the reason for implementing the new course. It raises questions about whether the change is appropriate among the students. As such, it seems necessary that the Office provides information about the background of implementing the new course and responds to students' concerns.



Students speak out about the reorganization

To find out students' thoughts on the change to the general education courses, SMT conducted a survey of non-freshmen students with multiple responses possible. According to the survey, regarding the need for Critical Thinking and Discussion as a general education course, 11 out of 74 (14.9%) answered "very necessary," 30 (40.5%) answered "necessary," 18 (24.3%) answered "normal," 11 (14.9%) answered "unnecessary," and 4 (5.4%) answered "not sure."1) Among the reasons for choosing "very necessary" or "necessary", 38 out of 41 (92.7%) answered, "It helps cultivate culture," 22 (53.7%) said, "It is useful in school life," and 17 (41.5%) said, "It is helpful in real life." It seems that the subject positively affected students' basic knowledge. On the contrary, 7 out of 11 (63.6%) who think Critical Thinking and Discussion is unnecessary checked "It doesn't help cultivate culture" and "It isn't useful in school life." In response to the need for Thinking and Academic Writing, 20 out of 74 (27%) said it was "very necessary," 31 (41.9%) said it was "necessary," 14 (18.9%) said it was "normal," 7 (9.5%) said it was "unnecessary," and 2 (2.7%) said they were "not sure." Among the reasons for answering "unnecessary," 5 of 7 (71.4%) said "It doesn't help improve basic knowledge." Also, one respondent added that it is inefficient to take both because they have much in common. On the other hand, for the reasons for answering "very necessary" and "necessary," 42 of 51 (82.6%) respondents answered, "It helps improve basic knowledge," followed by 29 (56.9%) who answered, "It is useful in school life," and 25 (49%) said, "It is helpful in real life." Additionally, some responded that it increased their vocabulary and writing and summarizing skills. These results show that these two subjects are still important to improve students' basic knowledge in general although a new direction is needed.
SMWU plans to eliminate the two subjects from 2025, integrating them into a new course, Digital Literacy for Thinking and Communication. As stated above, students who have not yet taken the course must complete it by 2024 to meet the requirements for graduation. In response to this deadline, 57 out of 74 (77%) said they were aware of this fact in relation to the Critical Thinking and Discussion class, and 55 (74.3%) were aware of this in relation to the Thinking and Academic Writing class. This means that most students are familiar with the school's notice of the reorganization. However, more than 20% of respondents remain unaware. In addition, as for the reasons for not taking the class yet, 7 of 16 (43.8%) checked "Because of elimination when registering for classes," "It was difficult to take a class at the time I want," and "It was difficult to take the class of the professor I want." Moreover, one student had failed to take the class due to a reduction in the number of classes, and it became more difficult to find a time because of the future integration. In this case, Academic Affairs notified the student by text message with "The students are responsible for not being able to graduate due to the failure to complete the course." Regarding this, 52 out of 74 (70.3%) answered that this was "very inappropriate" or "inappropriate," and 19 (25.7%) answered "very appropriate" or "appropriate." Among those who thought it was inappropriate, 40 out of 52 (76.9%) thought "it is a unilateral notification from the school" and "it didn't consider the students' personal circumstances." It indicates that students thought the school's measures were insufficient. Meanwhile, 36 out of 74 (48.6%) were aware of the change to the Logical Thinking and Software class from two to three credits, but 38 (51.4%) were unaware. In this regard, one expressed curiosity about why the subject's credits were changed. Thus, Academic Affairs seems to need to fully explain the background of the reorganization to students so that they can understand it.


The answer about the voice

To share the opinions of students and satisfy their curiosities about the reform plan, SMT met with the Office of the Academic Affairs of SMWU and conducted an interview. Regarding the background of the reorganization, the Office said that the plan was determined by student opinions based on the demand surveys for Critical Thinking and Discussion and Thinking and Academic Writing. According to the office, the surveys showed that the demand for those two subjects was low. In addition, the Office said the surveys showed that the satisfaction level is also low. This means that the Office properly reflected students' opinions. However, it seems that there is a lack of explanation for how many students responded to the survey and when the survey was conducted. The Office added that the plan considered the similarity of the two subjects since they had a lot in common in terms of improving communication skills courses. It is thought that combining them into one subject will be more efficient than now. Meanwhile, the Office said that SMWU was selected as a software-focused university in April 2022. It seems that the reorganization plan was implemented as part of a software-focused university against this background. The plan is to reorganize into a software-related communication subject by integrating the existing two subjects. Changing the credit of the Logical Thinking and Software class is also included as part of the software-focused university project. Therefore, the project about software has had an important influence on this change.
As the courses will run only until the end of 2024, students who have not taken the Critical Thinking and Discussion or Thinking and Academic Writing classes so far are worried about the reorganized course. In the survey, some said that they are concerned that the number of the classes which opened in this semester is insufficient. Even though the school realized that there was a lack of classes and opened two additional Critical Thinking and Discussion classes and three additional Thinking and Academic Writing classes, there are still many students who have not completed the course than can take classes. This semester, the seven classes for Critical Thinking and Discussion are only on Wednesday and the eight classes for Thinking and Academic Writing are only on Tuesday. As there are 40 students in each class, this means that the scope of when students can take the lectures is narrow. In other words, those who have not completed these subjects are in a situation where they may be unable to take other major classes. Accordingly, the Office said it is preparing measures for some students who cannot take the course due to personal reasons by 2024. It indicates that they recognize the situation where some students cannot take the classes due to personal circumstances. In response, it said that if there are some students who have not completed the course by 2024, alternative courses or additional assignments for lectures will be implemented. As such, the Office has perceived the problems of the reorganization and taken various measures. However, as there are still some students who cannot take the classes before the deadline due to various reasons, the reorganization plan requires a steady response and measures to prevent damage to students.

SCREENSHOT OF Council of Software Universities website


On the side of the students

Starting in 2023, as SMWU's general education courses, one of the requirements for graduation, have been reorganized, there are voices of concern among students. Currently, the Office of Academic Affairs is opening additional classes for students who have not completed the courses, but more classes are needed. The Office has recognized and tried to make improvements, but the negative voices among students have not disappeared. It seems necessary to come up with appropriate measures for the benefit of students to prevent the reorganization plan from affecting their graduation.


1) The total number of non-freshmen enrolled is 12,249, with a survey participation rate of about 0.6%


Kang Kim Hyojung / Woman Section Editor
Kim Jang Yunsun / Culture Section Editor

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