Academics, News, Student Government

Design-a-Course allows for academic freedom, creativity

A course dedicated solely to the novel “Jane Eyre” was proposed during the last academic school year.

“Jane Eyre” did not get approved, but Niurka Monteserin, chair of the academic affairs committee of Student Government, continues to lead the Design-a-Course initiative, which allows students to develop their own courses, create a syllabus and teach the class themselves. These are offered as pass/fail courses for one credit.

The written application details the content of the course. Then the student or group of students who are interested in teaching the class are interviewed. A faculty sponsor must work with the student to provide a grade for the course.

Of the five applications submitted in spring 2012, three were approved by the Design-a-Course committee. Only one of those made it through the final round of faculty approval.

According to Monteserin, the classes need to be proposed by strong student candidates.

“We’re looking for someone who is well-rounded,” she said. “They need to be familiar with the subject and have a good GPA.”

Class proposals can be submitted in either the fall or spring semesters. None of the applications that were turned in this past fall were approved because of communication problems, Monteserin said.

“Last semester we started a little too late, a lot of miscommunication between people,” she said. “We had two good courses that would have gotten a lot of attendance, so we want to make sure that doesn’t happen again this semester, which is why we’re starting early.”

Ultimately, faculty members in the respective schools or colleges have the final say of whether a class is approved.

The one student-led course that has already been taught was geared toward pre-health students. Pre-Health Students: Building a Diversified Portfolio (BIL375) was offered last fall and had about 25 students taught by seven student instructors.

Students in the class learned about techniques for writing their personal statements, preparing a concise and informative resume, and making the best use of their individual development plans. They also received step-by-step coverage of the online application system for applying to professional schools.

Michael Gaines, director of the Office of Pre-Health Advising and Mentoring, acted as the course’s faculty adviser.

Usually the student instructors would take charge and lead the discussions or introduce the guest speakers.

“He gave us a lot of freedom to run the class however we wanted, so we felt a great sense of responsibility to make sure things ran smoothly,” said junior Sarah Marmol, who was one of the student instructors.

Gaines and Melanie Georgmaier, an adviser in the School of Nursing and Health Studies, came up with the goals and objectives of the course, but the student instructors did the rest.

“We designed the week-to-week curriculum and lessons that would be taught, speakers that would come in, and assignments,” Marmol said.

Marmol, a neuroscience major on the pre-med track, thought it was valuable that the class was run by peers.

Junior Stephanie Ioannou, a biology major on the pre-med track, said that being a student instructor was a rewarding experience. She especially enjoyed planning the course.

“I appreciated being able to serve as a resource to students and, through the course, encouraging them to take the responsibility of enhancing their portfolios,” Ioannou said.

Students interacted with a panel of medical students from the Miller School of Medicine and practiced their interview skills with Gaines.

Junior Shreya Baid, a student in the class, said the course was helpful.

“I gained knowledge of new resources that could make me a better competitor as a medical school applicant,” Baid said.

February 21, 2013

Reporters

Lyssa Goldberg

Lyssa Goldberg is online editor of The Miami Hurricane. She is a senior majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in math. She has interned at Mashable and the Miami New Times, and her work has also been featured in The Huffington Post.

Alexander Gonzalez

Assistant Editor


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

No doubt that hurricane season, in all its fury, has released its wrath on South Florida and beyond. ...

Vernon “Vern” Carey, Jr., the consensus No. 1 junior basketball recruit in the nation, paid an unoff ...

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Hurricane Irma gave Mark Walton a chance to be with his 6-month old daughter and ...

LAKE BUENA VISTA —Apparently, University of Miami All-American receiver Ahmmon Richard’s hamstring w ...

University of Miami quarterback Malik Rosier was about to head home to Mobile, Alabama, when the bos ...

UM’s student-run ’Canes Emergency Response Team puts their training into action to assist with recov ...

UM students fan out across South Florida to help local neighborhoods rebound from the impacts of Hur ...

Students living in residential housing are returning to campus and classes with renewed resolve. ...

UM students recount how they rode out the storm called Hurricane Irma. ...

The two year project looks to improve forecast predictions that would look three to four weeks out, ...

Behind a big night from junior outside hitter Kolby Bird, who had tied a career-high with 17 kills, ...

The Canes are back in action for the first time in three weeks. Here are three matchups to watch in ...

The Miami Hurricanes swimming team wrapped up its first day of competition at the All-Florida Invita ...

The University of Miami women's golf team opens its 2017-18 season on Saturday, as it travels t ...

Miami, Auburn, FGCU and Pittsburgh competed, but rain was the victor on the opening day of the Miami ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.