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Navigating the New UB Curriculum with Path Finder

By Joe Ferguson

Published August 19, 2016

Joe Ferguson (UB Student, Class of 2019) was born in Sacramento, CA, but currently lives in Lockport, NY. He is studying Marketing/Public Relations and Communications. He hopes to get a job in as a marketing person or PR agent for a California-based company when he graduates.

Path Finder is a web-based interface created to help UB students select general education courses. This new system will track student transcripts and allow academic advisors to track transferred credits and courses that the student must take before graduation.

Dr. Andrew Stott is one of the driving forces behind Path Finder, along with a committee made up of functional UB staff, the general education office, and members of the Enterprise Application Services, part of UB Information Technology. The main purpose of Path Finder is to allow students to select a theme or pursue a specific line of thought across their general education courses while at UB. This theme or line of thought connects all of the student’s general education courses together.

“Ever been to a buffet?” Dr. Stott asked UBIT News, “You can get some food here and some food here, but it’s not a complete meal. Our current gen-ed is like a buffet, it has coverage but no defined entry or exit.”

Path Finder works to contextualize what the student is learning and develop critical and adaptable modes of thinking. It was developed as a tool to use the new UB Pathways curriculum. The new Pathways is split up between a Global and Thematic pathway. Within each pathway are lists of courses that fit a specific pre-requisite for a major or general education. This lists can easily reach 600+ courses per list. That was not possible to do on paper.

 

The Path Finder tool is split into two pathways, Global and Thematic.

“The advisors on campus find the tool useful,” Michael Korona, Instructional Support Associate with the Registrar’s office and member of the Path Finder committee, told UBIT News, “They are already using Path Finder with incoming and transfer students.”

When students first use Path Finder, they must pick both a Thematic and Global pathway. Both of these Pathways consist of three related courses based on a student’s interest. The Thematic Pathway allows the student to take a set of three courses within one of the five different tracks. These course topics are aligned with your intellectual interests. The Global Pathway consists of three different tracks: Global Reflections, Languages and Culture and International Experience. Just like in the Thematic Pathway, the courses are chosen based on what engages the student’s interests.

The two pathways are further split into more courses for the student to pick and choose.

The courses currently in the gen-ed curriculum will be reviewed to fit the new Pathways curriculum. Brand new courses are being suggested by professors and departments specifically for the new curriculum. Some courses in the current curriculum are being altered to fit while some already meet the requirements and will stay the same.

The current benefits may not be clearly apparent to some students. “The critical thinking skills that will be developed and honed through this new curriculum will follow the student well beyond their academic career, both at UB and in their respective field,” said Dr. Stott. “Students will learn how to approach problems from multiple angles and mindsets. An example would be, ‘I’m an engineer and I am facing an engineer problem, but I have to think like a social scientist and an aesthetic and so on.’”

Path Finder will be connected to the HUB Student Center during enrollment. Incoming freshmen and transfer students can use the system beginning Fall 2016.