The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

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Senior Seminar is Removed from IDS Curriculum

Students who began at USAO in fall 2023 or later no longer have to take Senior Seminar
Luka Messick
Chloey Orosco, a senior English major, spends time in Nash Library working on her Senior Seminar coursework.

Starting in the 1960s, Senior Seminar was an IDS core curriculum course that had to be taken by every student in order to graduate. Senior Seminar was a capstone course for students, but as of the fall 2023 trimester, students entering the University no longer are required to take the course to graduate.

The two-hour course’s goal was to be a product students could take with them after completing their under-graduate degree to showcase the education they received at USAO. The class required students to create a research proposal, research the topic they chose, and write a 15-page paper over their chosen topic. The course, however, was not getting as much priority from professors as other IDS courses.

“It often seemed to be the stepchild in that people would teach it as an overload, and sometimes it didn’t get the attention that it really needed to get,” Dr. Brenda Brown, dean of the school of IDS and humanities, said. “It’s been a little bit problematic.”

Senior Seminar had issues finding faculty members to teach the course, as many professors preferred to teach a capstone course within their departments rather than within the IDS curriculum. For the course to be removed from the IDS curriculum, a proposal was sent through several levels of command where it was approved each time. This means that students who began their education before the fall of 2023 must complete the course; however, those who entered in that trimester or afterwards no longer have to.

With the removal of Senior Seminar from students’ degree requirements, it was decided that a few other classes would be added to ensure students were still learning skills in writing and speaking areas. This means for those who entered in or since fall 2023, at least two writing intensive courses and two speech intensive courses were added to their degree track.

Examples of the writing intensive courses include “Performance” for art majors, “Applied Professional Studies” for education majors, and “The American Civil War” for history majors. Examples of the speech intensive courses include “Principles of Ecology” for biology and environmental science majors, “Numerical Analysis” for math majors, and “Research Methods” for psychology majors. Starting in the fall 2024 trimester, the course catalog will note which classes are speech and writing intensive.

The removal of Senior Seminar as a required course allows for professors to have their own capstone course, rather than a general capstone course. Dr. Brown said professors liked this idea as they can gear the capstone course more toward their major.

For teacher education candidates, there is a specialized section of Senior Seminar designed to be a capstone for what students learned in education. Their section was designed to provide support for students finalizing their teaching portfolios, a requirement at USAO for a teaching certificate. Dr. Linda McElroy, professor of education, said the education department is working on how to incorporate a course that provides the same support for future teachers as Senior Seminar does.

“We’ll provide continued support to our teacher candidates because it’s a busy class, they need support,” Dr. McElroy said. “We don’t want to just tell them you have to do this portfolio.”

An example of a capstone course for Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) students is an art thesis, which is addition to the BFA show, the current BFA capstone. The art thesis, typically done in graduate school, is based on the student’s work, concepts, and research. For Bachelor of Art (BA) students, there will be an added capstone course that will change the current writing documentation needed to complete an art student’s exit portfolio. Jackie Knapp, professor of art and coordinator of the Art Department, said the art faculty are excited to have their own capstone course.


Luka Messick is a first-year physics major at the Univeristy of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. 

Ray Thomas-Lapham
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About the Contributor
Luka Messick, Contributing Writer
Luka is a first-year physics major from Tulsa. He loves music and spends most of his free time listening to music. Luka played the clarinet in high school and was part of his school's front ensemble for marching season and winter percussion season. Luka also plays video games with his friends. Since he has been on campus, Luka has joined SPS and PRISM.   Experience with The Trend: Contributing Writer: Sept. 2023 - present