Moreau needs serious improvement
Letter to the Editor | Friday, April 13, 2018
Recite the seven Catholic social teachings. OK, now show through media what having a career means to you. These are the kinds of things the 1-credit first-year Moreau course asks first-year students to do on a weekly basis. Not only that, but we are told to read articles, watch videos and complete activities, all of which we do outside of class. While in class, we are told to discuss. The Moreau First Year Experience course has many problems that make for an ineffective orientation course to our first year at Notre Dame. The many problems of Moreau include the time commitment, the questions we are asked, and the numerous teachers.
I want to point out the time commitment Moreau asks of its students. There are 23 weekly prompts and four integrations to be completed over two semesters. Each weekly prompt takes about 30 minutes to an hour, and each integration takes about 2 ½ hours. In total, that’s 690 minutes of prompts and 600 minutes on integrations, and together, 1,290 minutes outside of class total while we spend only 1,150 minutes in class. Thus, we spend more time on this course outside of class than inside of class. Altogether, Moreau takes a good 40 hours overall. Still doesn’t seem too bad, but not what you want from an orientation course to Notre Dame.
This is all fine and good, but then you have to factor in the time you spend in all your other classes, time you spend on homework and studying, the time you spend at your job or extracurricular activity, the time you spend socializing, the time you spend making connections with people and the time you need to spend sleeping. Anyone else starting to feel a little dizzy? The worst part is that first-year students are expected to manage all this while integrating themselves into the Notre Dame community. All this is necessary, except all the time we spend on Moreau.
I will admit, many of the topics we learn about in Moreau are helpful, including the resources Notre Dame offers and how to transition to college life. However, there are many topics we are asked to discuss in our weekly prompts that seem fairly unnecessary and add nothing to my Notre Dame education. Moreau has us reflect on everything we do, from napping to praying to our cultural competence. We do enough reflecting on these topics during class itself, making weekly prompts unnecessary.
The problems of this class are even more evident when you factor in the numerous different teachers that teach the class. In the freshman class, there are 2,050 people. Classes are made up of about 20 people, which makes for about 102 teachers. This is a considerable number of teachers that each grade differently. Some teachers are tough, looking closely at their prompts, always checking for the word minimum and constantly inspecting to see if the student read or watched the material. Then in class, they expect full participation, where students need to make multiple comments every class period, and take you to every recommended location. Or you can get an easy grader that never looks at your word count, skims your prompt responses, and never requires you talk in class. This leads to drastically different amounts of effort students have to put into the class; those who get hard teachers have to spend significantly more time on all this work. Not to mention, some Moreau teachers feel the need to supplement the class with extra assignments of their creation, requiring some students to put in extra time while others do the bare minimum. People talk about assigned presentations and additional homework assignments. This difference in grading and teaching makes the course extremely unfair in terms of workload and grades.
I suggest that the course is altered to only contain 2 integrations, the course last only one semester long and that weekly prompts be discontinued as we would discuss important topics during our class period.
The system for the Moreau class now is not only flawed, but unfair. So I call upon Fr. Jenkins, the Dean of First Year of Studies and the University to re-model the class. The huge number of disadvantages in the class completely outweigh the few advantages and make our first year at Notre Dame more difficult than it already is as we transition into the college setting.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.