Rose-Hulmanís Past Interpretation of the ABET Requirements

Rose-Hulmanís HSS graduation requirements, while more substantial than is the case at most engineering colleges, reflect the traditional ABET position. They were designed to meet the ABET accreditation standards, while also emphasizing the tradition of disciplinary study in the humanities and social sciences. Much of the innovation which has occurred in recent years can be traced back to outstanding disciplinary specialists developing new courses and modifying the content of existing courses.

The HSS department consists of eighteen full-time faculty members in eleven disciplines, including four foreign languages. The largest group of faculty members is in English language and literature, with five. The normal teaching load is three courses per quarter, with some faculty having release time for other Institute duties. In addition, about ten adjunct courses are offered per quarter, most in the arts and foreign languages. All the courses in the department are four credit hour courses, which means that they normally meet four times per week, for a total of forty hours per quarter. On average, courses require three to four examinations, one major or several shorter writing assignments, and participation in class discussions. The nominal size limit for the classes is thirty students, with beginning English classes being limited to twenty.

Humanities and social sciences graduation requirements can be summarized as follows. Students are required to take nine HSS courses, for a total of 36 hours. This is approximately 18% of the typical majorís total required hours, as opposed to the 12 Ĺ % ABET mandated minimum. On average, students actually take between ten and eleven HSS courses before they graduate. Of the nine courses, one must be the beginning English course, "Literature and Writing." In addition, each students must take three courses designated as a humanities courses (HU) and three social science courses (SO). Of these at least three must be upper level courses (junior or senior), with at least one each from the humanities and social sciences. Disciplinary choices are left to the student. However, some majors at Rose-Hulman require a specific course such as "Principles of Economics" or "Technical Communication." The nine courses must also include one course designated as providing an insight into non-Western cultures.

Some courses offered by the department are designated as "limited credit," which means that a student may take only one of these for HSS graduation credit. These are courses seen to have a primarily skills component and were originally so designated in light of existing ABET requirements. The ABET standards were also partially responsible for the emphasis on literature in the beginning English course, so that this would not be considered a skills course. Some flexibility in the total requirements exists for students choosing to take a large number of foreign language courses.

Generally students thus have a great deal of latitude in the courses they choose, while at the same time ABETís "breadth and depth" requirement is preserved. Students may enhance the depth of their studies by focusing more deeply in one area through the attainment of an area minor. These minors are available in all disciplines as well as in Asian Studies, European Studies, and Science, Technology, and Society. The department also offers a major in Economics and students who study German for four years can earn a certificate in technical translation. Given the size of the department and the Institute, beginning students are not always able to register for their first choice courses. However, in total a large number of selections are available for students during any given term.

 

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