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Computer competency may become new requirement

March 21, 1997

By Keirsten Layne

Lariat Reporter

Students in the College of Arts and Sciences may soon have to demonstrate competency in computers.

Dr. Dianna Vitanza, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, said the requirements are being considered, and a decision should definitely be reached by the fall.

Between 1994 and 1996, the University conducted a self-evaluation for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

According to requirements outlined in the Association handbook, 'An institution must demonstrate that its graduates are competent in reading, writing, oral communication, fundamental mathematical skills and the basic use of computers.'

The College of Arts and Sciences is the only school at the University that does not have specific requirements for computer classes. Since there are no required classes, some students may be graduating from the University without a general knowledge of computers.

Dr. Donald Hardcastle, director of Computing and Information Systems, hopes that the University makes computer classes mandatory for all students. 'The criteria in the accreditation book is general, but it fairly well states that students must demonstrate computer competency,' said Hardcastle.

The CCIS department already has an Applications of Information Technology course, which is 'the best course for learning to obtain and deal with information,' Hardcastle said.

'One of the biggest challenges is getting the faculty up to speed. We are doing a good job but must keep working to improve,' Hardcastle said.

Jay Rissing, an Irving junior majoring in telecommunications, said she has learned about computers at the University.

'I would take computer classes if they would fill upper-level requirements,' Rissing said. 'It will expand the curriculum and help students prepare for the future.'

Even though computer skills are essential, specific programs vary dramatically.

'When you get a job, all the computer programs are so diverse that no matter what you learned in school, you have to be retrained,' Rissing said.

An investigation is underway to determine whether or not Baylor students can demonstrate their computer proficiency, according to Vitanza. She said if the University discovers most Arts and Sciences students are unable to perform basic computer skills, some type of requirements may be installed.

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