“E” is for “evaporate”: FSU’s E-series courses about to be legislated out of existence

FSU’s E-series course program, which was authorized by the Florida Legislature when FSU and UF were designated “preeminent”, would disappear under legislation nearing approval.  The E-series courses were engineered to provide an “exceptional academic experience,,,,unique to FSU among public colleges and universities in Florida” and provide a bulwark against the erosion of the universities’ liberal studies credit hour production by the growing popularity of AP, IB, AICE and dual enrollment courses in Florida’s high schools.

When FSU and UF were granted preeminence status by the Legislature, that status included the right to require “its incoming first-time-in-college students to take a six-credit set of unique courses specifically determined by the university.”  The statute also made the effort to protect the universities’ general education credit hour production explicit by saying “The university may stipulate that credit for such courses may not be earned through any acceleration mechanism pursuant to s. 1007.27 or s. 1007.271 or any other transfer credit.”

While FSU’s E-series courses were nominally intended to provide “students the opportunity to interact closely with faculty early in the student’s academic career”, in practice several E-series courses were offered online.  Even E-series courses held in a physical classroom could be large.  The maximum enrollment for non-Honors Program E-series courses was listed as 120.

Nearly all E-series courses were offered by faculty in the humanities, arts and social sciences.  No laboratory-based natural science course was ever included in the E-series portfolio.

Faculty were paid summer salary to develop E-series courses, so considerable resources and enthusiasm have been devoted to developing them.

The FSU liberal studies web site makes the funding incentives to departments participating in the E-series program explicit, saying “enrollment funding is provided at $75/student enrolled in a regular or augmented course section or at $180/student enrolled in an honors course section. The funds are sent to each College, which retains 1/3 of the total enrollment funding and allocates 2/3 of the enrollment funding to each Department.”

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