The College of New Jersey feels it has found a way to do both — thanks to moves it made more than a decade ago.
Leaders at TCNJ sat down in 2004 to rewrite its STEM curricula so it required students to explore a cornucopia of subjects and experiences, according to Jeffrey Osborn, the dean of the School of Sciences.
The thought, Osborn said, was to best prepare the student for the challenges of working in the real world.
“We’ve built the critical structure for interdisciplinary connections to be made,” he said. “We reduced the amount of courses that students were going to take, but increased the level of rigor and engagement of those courses so students were getting a deeper learning experience in those courses.
“When our students leave TCNJ and go to graduate school or to work in industry, they’re going to encounter problems. They’re not going to encounter biology or chemistry alone. They’re going to encounter problems that require them to think across disciplinary boundaries.”
Twelve years later, Osborn said the validation for those changes is in the data.
“The number of students who have completed doctorate degrees, who finished their undergraduate degree at TCNJ has increased, for the institution as a whole, almost 100 percent,” Osborn said. “For the School of Science, it’s increased over 100 percent.”
That growth, Osborn said, is affirmation for the school’s reimagining of its curriculum.
“Those numbers are a proxy for the impact that the curricular change at the institution has had on the students’ ability to think critically and abstractly and pursue deeper level questions in STEM,” he said. “It’s a documentation of the impact of those choices and the wonderful successes of our students.”
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