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Looking back: How we got to the 4-4

March 22, 2013

Current students at Monmouth College have experienced what it is like to learn under a changing curriculum. Though it may feel like an alien concept, it is certainly not foreign to MC. Prior to 1990, Monmouth College was not on a semester system but on a trimester system. Under the trimester system, students had three 10-week periods of classes.

Students typically took three courses each trimester, and the courses were usually five days a week. “I always felt that there was time for one more course in there, so I didn’t feel that the 3-3-3 was an effective use of [students’] time,” said Vice President for Student Life Jacquelyn Condon, who served as Dean of Students at the time of the change.

Student breaks were also different. Instead of getting out of school in mid-December for winter break, students had winter break from Thanksgiving until around the first week in January.

“We adopted a new curriculum, and lots of institutions were on semesters,” Condon said. “We thought that we could do a better job with our new curriculum on the semester system.”

Monmouth is certainly no stranger to changing the curriculum when demand seems to be calling for it, and history seems to have repeated itself.

“There was a lot of concern before we went to the semesters,” Condon said of the switch. “Very much like it’s been for [the change to the 4-4]. A lot of concern, but it worked out very well. We went on and delivered the curriculum in fine style.”

Kristi Hippen, Associate Dean of Admission and 1993 Monmouth graduate, also thinks the transition to semesters was relatively easy.

“The semester system was implemented at the beginning of my sophomore year,” Hippen said. “Under the new semester schedule we took at least one additional class each semester, but given that the classes met [two or three days a week], it seemed to me to be a smooth transition and allowed for extra time for additional readings, group projects, etc.”

Along with concern for the new curriculum, the reasons behind the changes in curriculum seem to be the same after 23 years. “I think the institution has been very good at recognizing when it needs to make important changes. While we could have adopted a new curriculum and delivered it through the trimester system, we recognized that that wasn’t the best thing to do,” Condon said. “As we developed [the 4-4] curriculum, there was a recognition that this curriculum and its focus on integrated learning was going to require – should require – more time from students to delve deeper into the subjects to be able to make those connections that we very much want students to make. And, we decided to make those changes.”

Mackenzie Mahler
News Editor

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