Redesigning Complex Courses in Pharmacy

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September 8, 2017
UT Pharmacy students

As part of their curriculum redesign effort, the College of Pharmacy is confronting several 6-hour “monster courses.” Until now, the courses have been chunked by topic and taught by groups of expert faculty--a challenge to coordinate--and students who fail a single unit must retake the entire course. Separating these 6-credit beasts into a series of shorter courses, as short as 3 weeks and worth as little as 1 credit, will allow students to more efficiently receive credit specifically for what they've mastered. 

But pull one string, and several things unravel. Modules pose challenges to federally-dictated financial aid policies. The Registrar’s and Financial Aid offices have helped the CTL and our department partners untangle the implications. Here's the gist for programs considering this approach.

  • Creating sequential, 6-week modules will add burden on the department’s course scheduler, who must add courses to the system without a timeline, then add those details back in after registration, and for the advisers, who will need to counsel students correctly on the necessity of enrolling in all modules and the procedures and implications around drops.
  • No one can extend the Q drop deadline: undergrads who sign up for a series of modules are therefore locked into those that begin after the drop deadline has passed. (Departments can establish their own drop deadlines if they are earlier than the University's, but it's up to the department to enforce them.)
  • The Office of Financial Aid must keep an eye on any students signed up for modules. They manually generate reports on these students, and, if students drop a module, they must get certification in writing of intent to remain enrolled in subsequent modules. Students who drop below half-time lose their aid.

Graduate programs like Pharmacy have more latitude, but modules are tricky for any program. If you consider them as a solution, be sure the rationale justifies the hassle--and that the Office of Financial Aid is in the loop.