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Cross-Campus Classes: Are They Being Handled Properly?

Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU), which supports various cross-campus courses through the dual campus system, established new courses called Sungkyun Classics Book Club (SCBC) and Creative and Interdisciplinary Design (CID) last year. In May, important team projects are about to begin in these courses, and students’ complaints may increase, as they are mandatory for freshmen. Long travel times between campuses may further worsen the situation. Therefore, the Sungkyun Times (SKT) is going to look at what a campuscrossing course is, identify limitations of the newly introduced courses, and suggest a possible direction for the development of future courses.

The Advent of Cross-Campus Courses

Implementation of the Courses

In various Korean universities, dual campus systems in two or more regions are adopted by separating departments depending on fields, separating students by grade, or establishing specialized areas of education. SKKU opened its Natural Sciences Campus (NSC) in 1979 and has maintained a dual campus system by separating departments. However, several problems have occurred, such as courses of similar fields being separated and double majoring across fields. To solve these problems, many universities have introduced cross-campus course systems. These allow students to take lectures on whatever campus they want. Since SKKU also has a dual campus system, it is possible to take liberal arts courses at either campus regardless of the students’ majors.

What Are the New Cross-Campus Courses at SKKU?

Since 2020, SKKU has opened compulsory liberal arts courses: Sungkyun Classics Book Club (SCBC) at the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus (HSSC) and Creative and Interdisciplinary Design (CID) at the NSC. They are mandatory courses that aim at cultivating the most basic intellectual and linguistic abilities and forming the unique academic traditions of SKKU. SCBC and CID are assigned to freshmen by the school each semester, and students are required to take these classes for both entering a major and graduating. If students take SCBC in the spring semester, they should take CID in the fall semester, or vice-versa.

SCBC was introduced to strengthen problem-solving abilities and communication capabilities required in the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Classes are assigned to LC (Learning Community, an integrated group of 23 freshmen from several departments) or to freshmen who have entered the university with declared majors. In the case of the latter, they are randomly assigned to classes with about 20 students each. They read new classics and discuss them together. CID is aimed to maximize problem-solving skills through logical, critical, and creative thinking. Class members are formed by mixing adjacent LCs, and in the case of freshmen with declared majors, students are also randomly assigned to classes. The class lets students design solutions for the problems that professors have given based on team projects. Additionally, SCBC and CID also introduced a new teaching method, called Blended Learning. It is a mixture of online learning, such as online discussions of SCBC and pre-recorded lectures of CID and face-to-face studying. This method can make up for weaknesses of online and offline lectures and maximize studying effects. Despite these positive expectations, dissatisfaction has been expressed among students.

How Are They Confusing Students?

Class Operation Methods That Fall Behind the COVID-19 Situation

At SKKU, there is a shuttle bus system between the HSSC and the NSC. However, the shortage of campus shuttles has become more serious as the number of available passengers has been limited to 20 due to preventative coronavirus (COVID-19) measures. The interval of the campus shuttle is about two hours, so a student must find other means of transportation if they miss a shuttle bus. Due to these problems, freshmen who are obliged to take these mandatory cross-campus courses are considerably inconvenienced. Moreover, the classes are operated inefficiently. For example, in the spring semester of 2021, each class of CID had approximately 130 students. Since classrooms for each class are divided into four, a professor cannot give lectures to every student in all classrooms. Therefore, a professor provides lectures in his office, and the online lecture is presented with a projector through the WebEx system in each classroom. As teaching assistants cannot be assigned to all classrooms, students take online classes without assistants or professors even though they are attending offline classes. There are also problems regarding COVID-19. For SCBC, all but three of the 87 classes are scheduled for offline classes, and all 15 classes are held offline for practicing weeks for CID. Considering that there are about 3,000 freshmen from various regions, gathering at the same time will lead to loopholes in the COVID-19 prevention measures.

Students Doing Team Projects with Masks

Problems Caused by Unsettled Teaching Methods

In the case of SCBC, each professor has different contents depending on the professors’ major. If a professor’s major is Confucian and Oriental Studies, a class proceeds through learning the culture and classics of a certain period such as the Warring States period in ancient China, and sometimes Students Doing Team Projects with Masks As the curriculum changes, more and more subjects regarding liberal arts and natural sciences have become integrated and convergent to expand students’ education choices. Universities that provide learning opportunities before students launch into the new world also need to provide those kinds of lectures. Since the newly established cross-campus courses at SKKU were only introduced a year ago, there should better be more development. Therefore, SKKU should communicate with Kingos to provide better education. 08 In SKKU without using any books. Other compulsory liberal arts courses, such as English Writing, also have professors with different lecturing styles, but they have the same textbooks and curriculum in all classes. The difference in learning depending on the professor, without maintaining a specific curriculum, might confuse students. Also, in CID, the evaluation methods have not yet been firmly established. For instance, there is an assignment where students draw sketches of an object from several viewpoints under the name of learning visual thinking and perspectives. Questions about the evaluation methods were raised because the method of re-tracing the pictures after filming the objects with electrical devices was allowed even though the task is to look at the given pictures and draw them on paper. As such, there are some worries whether the classes can cultivate the competence of subjects successfully due to variations in teaching methods and gaps within evaluation methods.

An Example of a CID Assignment (jransom.wordpress.com)

How Cross-Campus Courses Can Improve Changes

Under the COVID-19 Situation

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, various changes are needed to adjust to the current situation. Before the start of the new semester, the number of campus shuttle buses should be managed by conducting a survey. Through survey platforms like Google Forms, students can answer whether they will use the campus shuttle buses or not. Given the school’s budget issues, adjusting the campus shuttle fees could be another option. Reducing bus intervals from two hours to one hour or expanding the number of available passengers can also reduce inconvenience. Regarding CID, more classrooms should be reserved to reduce the number of people per classroom. Providing online classes except for team project periods will also help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Establishing Teaching Methods for Kingos

SKKU should design a unified curriculum of SCBC considering the purpose of strengthening problemsolving abilities. To achieve the class objectives, providing classics of various branches every week and letting students who want to learn more about a specific field take an in-depth liberal art lecture in the subsequent semester can be an option. For example, a student who learned Russian classics after taking SCBC might get interested in Russian classics and might take the Understanding of Russian Culture course the following semester. Then, CID needs to announce detailed evaluation methods to students to prevent cheating. Regarding the sketch assignments of visual thinking, there should be a warning that using electronic devices is not allowed considering fairness standards. Additionally, as the courses have already been running for a year, SKKU should hear students’ detailed feedback through lecture evaluations and additional surveys. For SCBC and CID to become better liberal arts courses, meaningful changes by trial and error will be necessary.

As the curriculum changes, more and more subjects regarding liberal arts and natural sciences have become integrated and convergent to expand students’ education choices. Universities that provide learning opportunities before students launch into the new world also need to provide those kinds of lectures. Since the newly established cross-campus courses at SKKU were only introduced a year ago, there should better be more development. Therefore, SKKU should communicate with Kingos to provide better education.

정민주  sophiejmj@g.skku.edu

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