The requirements for Bachelor of Science scientific inquiry courses at Weber State University have undergone a change. Instead of requiring students to take a separate class for scientific inquiry, the university is now asking departments that offer BS degrees to make sure that the classes they already require contain some elements of scientific inquiry within them. The idea was brought before the faculty senate, which subsequently allowed it to go forward.
“When we redid the Bachelor of Arts and BS requirements, the BS had to have some sort of significant course that dealt with some of the skills that would be dealt with in a scientific inquiry class,” said Faculty Senate Chair Colleen Garside.
Garside went on to say that the reasoning behind the change was that there was some confusion regarding what the requirements were for BA and BS. The idea was not so much to fix something that was broken as to make something more clear for students.
Scientific inquiry credits will now no longer be required as of the 2011-12 school year. In the past, students needed to attain six credit hours in order to meet their requirements. Scientific inquiry addresses the formulation of hypotheses, the collection of data and the empirical testing of theories through analytical or laboratory inquiry, or addresses quantitative methods which are taught at a level requiring quantitative literacy. The primary difference between BS and BA is that the BS majors require scientific inquiry, while the BAs require foreign language courses in order to graduate.
The change was meant to make attaining a BS degree easier for WSU students, and received a variety of student responses. WSU junior Dexter Snyder said he was wary of the change for BS degrees. A microbiology major, Snyder said he felt that study in scientific inquiry was crucial, and talked about how departments need to make sure that students are picking up scientific inquiry skills in their respective departments’ classes.
“As long as it’s being taught at some level,” he said. “But it should be a requirement that students be exposed to it at some point.”
Ashley Hortin, also a WSU junior and a nursing major, was less hesitant about the change, and said she felt that the reconfiguration of the requirement would do more to help students in their majors. She talked about how it would make things less stressful for students.
“To be able to combine a class, it’s one less class the student has to take,” she said. “It’s easier.”