PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY KEVIN OSBORN / TEJANO TRIBUNE
Students using their time to study in the EPCC Valle Verde Library. (L-R) Robert Mena, Jonah Delgado and Rogelio Reveles.
Alejandra Muñoz & Cecil Yañez
Most EPCC students are familiar with the course Mastering Academic Excellence, also known as Education 1300 (EDUC 1300), because it’s part of the college core curriculum.
However, some students question the importance of the course and its place on their degree plans.
“You don’t have to study for it really because everything is common sense,” said EPCC student Matilda Diebel.
“I think it’s redundant.
I don’t think you really need it.
“I guess it helps with information about the college. I didn’t know that you could just leave the classroom when you need to go to the restroom or something; that’s something I learned in that class.”
The course started in the 1980s when colleges around the country created courses to introduce and prepare students for college studies.
The name of the course varies among colleges and universities, but the material taught in the class is similar.
EDUC 1300 district-wide coordinator Blanca Campa said the course focuses on developing educational resilience by building basic skills and the broadening a student’s thinking and perspectives.
"Primary college skills, such as note-taking, time management and test-taking are essential in most fields of study so they are important components of the curriculum,” she said.
"In addition, students work with library resources, technology, communications, research projects and writing.”
When the course was being introduced to educators around the country, community colleges found these courses to be particularly important for non-traditional students – those from low income backgrounds, students of color, first-generation college students, and students for whom English is a second language.
By early 21st century, the course became a part of the EPCC core curriculum.
The consensus from students was that it’s a waste of time and money, and focuses on pointless objectives.
"I didn’t learn anything new in that class,” said recent EPCC graduate Carlos Enriquez.
“It was mainly things we did in high school."
Some students who have taken the class have mixed feelings on whether it has any true value.
“It’s mostly like: ‘Hey guys, here’s how you take notes,’” said Andrew Salas, EPCC student.
“I don’t think it really helped, but overall it was an easy class,” said Isaac Zamora, early college high school student.
Campa defends the course by saying it helps students understand new ideas and concepts, allowing them to closely examine their own lives and begin a journey of personal and career development.
“It asks students to consider making changes that will have a positive impact on their studies as well as their role in society,” Campa said.
“Positive changes can be uncomfortable and ironically, the students who most desperately need to develop these new ways of thinking are often the most resistant.”
However, some students have benefited from the course.
“It helps you deal with stress, and how to reduce it, and it helps you stay motivated,” said Jessica Hernandez, EPCC student.
Students have differing views, but Education 1300 is here to stay.
Qualified faculty members have taught the course, including licensed professional counselors, career experts, Ph.D.s, psychologists and college vice presidents.
Offered in all course formats such as traditional face-to-face, online, minimester and five week summer classes, it’s intended to be taken the first semester of college, prepping incoming students for their new venture in college.
According to the EPCC website, Education 1300 helps students enhance their academic and social skills as well as how to manage their professional life in different ways.
It covers topics like time management and conflict resolutions.
Just as with any other academic course, EDUC 1300 is overseen by a designated academic dean and it is constantly being reviewed.
The syllabus also undergoes review and modifications when deemed appropriate.
The faculty in charge regularly holds meetings where teaching materials and methods can be reviewed and evaluated, special trainings are offered, and educational issues discussed.
Input is gathered from student course evaluations, faculty observations, and the discipline faculty.
For 2015, a new Core Curriculum Assessment focusing on personal and career development will further measure the effectiveness of the course and detail improvement plans that will tweak various aspects of the curriculum and instruction.
Contributions to this article were made by Julian Rivera.