Although the general catalog is riddled with the word ‘prerequisite,’ many students realize these classes act more as suggestions than mandatory courses.
However, the communication department is planning to enforce the often-ignored prerequisites.
In an e-mail sent out last week to communication majors, students were warned that if they enrolled in classes without fulfilling the prerequisites, the students would be asked to drop the class starting in Fall 2011.
The e-mail, sent out by Professor George Barnett, chair of the communication department, explained that just because SISweb doesn’t have the capabilities to check whether or not a student has satisfied the prerequisite for a course, doesn’t mean an instructor cannot drop a student from that class.
“The reason for this change in policy is so that more advanced courses can build on the material presented in the introductory courses,” explained Barnett in an e-mail interview. “This will also make for smaller classes in which the students can receive more personal attention.”
Lynda Jones, the undergraduate advisor for the English department, said that dropping a student from a class isn’t exactly a simple process. It requires someone who has access to student records to go into the computer and personally check which classes a student has taken. From there, the faculty member would have to call the registrar’s office, who can then drop that student.
It’s not necessarily a realistic process, but the communication department is sticking by its new policy.
The university policy states that it is solely the student’s responsibility to make sure he or she has completed the required courses before they enroll in a class.
However, Barnett explained that communication, as an impacted major, is enforcing this new policy in an attempt to cut class sizes which can average over 100 students.
“Currently, every course is an introductory course due to the students not having a common foundation,” he said.
While many classes at UC Davis claim to require a prerequisite, students quickly learn that there is nothing stopping them from taking any of these classes.
“When I was a freshman I didn’t sign up for a bunch of classes that would have worked perfectly in my schedule just because I hadn’t taken the prereq,” said Caroline Bohlken, a junior international agricultural development major. “It took me a few pass times to figure out that SISweb doesn’t know what classes you have already taken.”
Jones explained how she used to work as the math department advisor, where prerequisites acted more as building blocks for subsequent courses than in other majors.
“For chemistry and math, you see a lot more students being told to drop the course, simply because they cannot keep up without first taking the prerequisites,” Jones said.
Arian Behzadi, a junior biological sciences major, insisted that you’d be crazy to take chemistry classes out of order.
“You’d find the material in the 118 series much more difficult if you don’t have the basic grasp of chemistry taught in the two series,” he said.
Bohlken said she has felt behind in some of classes that required important prerequisites, such as biology or chemistry, but added that she’d rather take those classes despite feeling lost rather than having to take the prerequisites.
While students in the social sciences may not feel the same staggering effect when skipping a prerequisite, Jones said that it is in the students’ best interest to take those necessary courses.
But when it comes to the communication department, Barnett isn’t just suggesting taking the prerequisite but is planning on enforcing it.
“We want to improve the communication skills of communication students – writing (with feedback), speaking and group work,” he said. “Also, we don’t have enough faculty to meet the student demand. We have the fewest faculty of any social science department. The faculty needs more time to meet the research demands expected of UCD faculty.”
ANDY VERDEROSA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.