Curricular Changes Aid Student Achievement

curriculumThis fall 2012, incoming first-year, first-semester students began enjoying a new curriculum designed to help them achieve the most during their time at SMU. Driven by a yearlong university-wide review by faculty and staff, the English Department’s implementation began with the First-Year Writing Program’s transformation into “Discernment and Discourse” and within the creative writing specialization.

Other changes in the specialization, according to David Haynes, director of the program, include the addition of an Introduction to Creative Writing course that devotes equal time to the theory and writing of fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction, and the availability of themed courses, such as speculative fiction. Field experience that might include research, teaching, or an internship is also being offered.

All students pursuing the specialization will complete a culminating project that they may submit for consideration of “Distinction” or graduation with Honors in English. Other curricular changes include a new requirement and a new innovation: all students, regardless of incoming high school AP credit, must take at least one course in D & D and two other writing intensive courses beyond the first year; and in some instances, courses may “double count.” A course taught in the English Department might, for example, simultaneously satisfy requirements for both “Creativity and Aesthetics” and “Historical Contexts.”

“We’re keeping an open mind,” says Department Chair Nina Schwartz. “We’ll make changes if and when they are necessary. But for right now, we are pleased with the new offerings and are excited by the participation of our faculty and the response of our students.”

Charlie Lewis

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