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Hey, Provost, what’s the deal? Three credit courses are not a steal.

Updated: Feb 28

Ali Rei 

Opinions Editor 

It has been brought to the attention of the paper that the Provost of Rhode Island College is proposing to turn most four credit courses into three credits. Initially, this proposal started as a motion to move all General Education courses from four credits to three credits, but the Provost has bigger plans. According to Dr. Schmeling et al. in a letter responding to the Provost’s proposal, "The Provost further stated in the February 16th Zoom meeting with faculty that her goal is that RIC courses generally will be moved from four to three credits, regardless of whether they are part of Gen Ed or not”. Not only will this severely impact the curriculum of each course, it will also negatively impact a vast majority of Rhode Island College’s students.

Some of you might be wondering what a Provost even is and what their role is at higher education institutions. The Provost is a high ranking administrator that oversees an institution’s entire educational offering. Such a role is similar to that of the Dean, except the Dean oversees faculty and staff at the departmental level. Rhode Island College currently has an interim Provost, Dr. Carolynn Masters, who has been at our school since 2020, first hired as the Dean for the school of nursing. Now that a bit of context has been provided, let’s get back to the main purpose of this article: to discuss the harm of turning four credit courses into three credits. 

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile:

The letter prepared by Dr. Schmeling et al. highlights the negative impacts that will result from a three credit system. An explanation behind the reason for initially switching classes to four credits in 2009 was also provided, stating “The switch to four-credit courses was expected to improve progress-toward-degree and retention. Students taking three-credit courses need to take five courses per semester to stay on track to graduate in four years (3*5=15 credits per semester). Students taking four-credit classes need only take four courses to stay on track (4*4=16 credits per semester)”. Having a four credit system makes it easier for working students, which Rhode Island College is primarily home to, to attend school full time due to only having to take four courses a semester to be considered full time. 

Proposing a three credit system is a detrimental and ignorant motion towards the student body of Rhode Island College. Trying to have working students take five courses a semester will spread them too thin, resulting in a lack of quality work. RIC is home to many parents and adults who are trying to go back to school in order to better their, and their family’s, lives. Such a proposal does not take into consideration the kind of students Rhode Island College serves, as well as the faculty who work to better the wellbeing of its students. With a switch to three credits, faculty will have less time with their students, which will only negatively affect academic performance. 

The negative effects of a three credit system, as previously mentioned, impact the faculty as well. Courses that are four credits will need to be redesigned to fit a three credit model, resulting in faculty having to take countless hours to make the switch. Our current credit system also allows for faculty to make the decision of whether or not the curriculum of each course is better delivered in a three or four credit model, or a mix. Forcing faculty to have to make all courses three credits, according to Dr. Schmeling et al., “...undermines the faculty’s ability to exercise their professional expertise in their discipline”. 

We need to exercise our voices and remind the Provost what kind of students Rhode Island College serves. This is not the first time administrators have seemed to forget about who attends their school: President Jack Warner was witnessed advising students at orientation pursuing the Hope Scholarship to not work more than a certain number of hours a week in order to dedicate enough time to schoolwork. Advising such a thing to incoming students, who are predominantly students who have to work to pay rent, is terrifying and disappointing. The administrators at Rhode Island College need to start including the student body in decisions that greatly impact them. So hey, Provost, what’s the deal? Three credit courses are not a steal.  

Correction: In the original publication of this article, the last sentence of the first paragraph mistakenly contained a quotation mark. This sentence was not a quote by Dr. Schmeling, and has since been revised.


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