Lab credit required for 2006 freshmen

Allison Remcheck

Science is about to become more practical as a one-credit-hour lab is added to the list of liberal education requirements for incoming freshmen in Fall 2006.

Paul Sampson, chemistry department assistant chair and professor, said this affects all majors not currently required to take a science lab.

“The average student will probably end up taking seven hours of science,” he continued. “It’s (the lab) one day a week; it’ll be a three hour session.”

Although students are required to spend three hours for one credit, Sampson said the amount of reading, homework and exams will be reduced for the lab so students will not spend as much outside of class as they would for a lecture course.

The university does not intend to increase LER requirements, but will redistribute the credit from another requirement.

Sampson said the science department has enough lab space for the classes, but will need new faculty members to conduct labs over time. The demand for the classes has not been gauged yet, he said.

“The details of that (the staff) are not completely worked out,” Sampson said. “Of course this is going to be a slowly developing demand. It will (also) be split between the various departments.”

Sampson said graduate students might conduct labs along with faculty members.

Since costs will increase to provide the labs, lab fees will be required for students, and will vary from department to department, he said. In the chemistry department, for example, the fee will be $20, although not all labs will have this fee.

Sampson said the department is not sure how much of a spending increase the new labs will be.

“There’s a one-time investment for buying equipment,” he said.

Later, he said the expenses will be partially set-off by the lab fees.

Associate Provost Laura Davis said, “The estimated cost to get started with the new lab science courses in the fall is going to be about $100,000 recurring costs, and about $20,000 for some equipment needed – so that would be a one time cost.”

She said most of the increased budget is to fulfill staffing needs with graduate assistants, and this cost will be re-evaluated mid-year next year.

Although not all students are science-oriented, Sampson said labs are beneficial to students.

“It will actually help students appreciate science a little bit better,” he said.

Sampson said students are able to understand concepts better if they are demonstrated because science is discovery and inquiry-based.

“Intrinsically, to understand anything about science you have to do some science,” Sampson said. “You’ll get a sense of how scientists actually do science.”

Gayle Ormiston, associate provost for faculty affairs and curriculum, said Kent State was “one of the few universities in the state who didn’t have a lab science requirement.”

Sampson said students will probably be accepting of the new lab requirement.

“Because there’s not an increase in the total size of the liberal education requirements, I don’t think it’s going to have a major impact on students,” he said.

Ormiston said there are other changes in the LER requirements for 2006 freshmen, including the drop of foreign languages from the math, science and foreign language requirement. Now either math or philosophy will be required. Two new English writing courses have also been added to replace the current composition courses, he said.

Contact science reporter Allison Remcheck at [email protected]