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Interdisciplinary and Individual Option Courses
Heritage International University is an inexpensive, interdisciplinary institution that encourages the creation of individual option courses through distance learning. It provides a valuable service and opportunity to mankind for both the well-off and the marginally poor.
Individual Option is a non-traditional approach used by a number of university's and college's, both nationally and internationally. This is because it opens the door for students to learn to think out of the box, to study in depth the latest and most current and modern discoveries. In other words, instead of being filled with theoretical clutter of the past, the student finds the gems, the practical, the best practices that are evidence based, the most relevant knowledge to make them effective practitioners and experts in their field.
Individual Option provides choice. It is interdisciplinary by nature. It creates the opportunity for the highly motivated student to pursue a unique blend of study that is learner-centered. That is, the student is an active participant in proposing and creating a curriculum that supports an individualized and scholastically rigorous academic goal that is clearly defined and interdisciplinary. One does not have to study what they already know, but can study what they need to know to be effective. Such proposals are under the direction of the personís academic advisor and the Graduation Committee, but the student designs it to provide the practical skills required for a wide range of positions or for further advanced and meaningful study.
Thus, one student may create a unique program in chemistry. Another, may choose architectural innovations combined with conventional design and wisdom, a third may do research in law to find solutions to serious political problems. Obviously, an Individual Option degree means one can study almost any subject:
counseling and psychology
domestic and international law,
political science, etc.
It is the teacher's/mentor's role to advise, encourage and help students complete their courses, not do it for them, but to assist them where possible. Students can ask questions and expect answers and support..
Many Benefits of Individual Option
Some of the great advantages of Individual Option Programs over a traditional approach are as follows:
1. Any relevant area of study is possible provided it is practical and approved.
2. To make an intelligent and reasonable degree program and effective courses in support of it, in the field of one's choice and interest, requires that the student learn what is of the greatest value to practitioners and to one's personal life. The course and program focuses on the core values and issues important to the student to create a program that will truly benefit him or her whether innovative or conventional in nature.
3. So, rather than making a student jump through preconceived hoops and study things he or she already knows, which would be a waste of time, the student can study what he or she does not know and needs to learn. As long as the student's goals are compatible with University standards and is practical and relevant, they can be approved.
4. Thus, the student can make a plan that would put him or her on the cutting edge of new discoveries and the most advanced knowledge available -- not behind the times, but far ahead.
5. Such a program is generally interdisciplinary. The student can take advantage of the wisdom that exists in various fields and combine them and enjoy a higher quality education.
6. In addition, students are more motivated and encouraged when learning about things they are interested in or consider important and valuable.
7. Students learn to think critically, take responsibility for their studies, work collaborately with their advisors and the Graduation Committee, and then make their own choices. They grow in a sense of confidence that they can do things of value in the world and make headway toward a more productive future.
8. Such a system provides an environment of adventure and academic growth rarely experienced in traditional institutions.
9. Students develop an attitude that learning, improvement and knowledge is a worthwhile and a rewarding way of life, and
10. Since creativity is one of the deepest longings of human beings, being a creator of one's program and each course and lesson is highly satisfying, and is the beginning of many new adventures and discoveries.
It works as follows: students design their own program with the help of their academic advisors and the Graduation Committee. Changes and course corrections are made along the way. Students are expected to intelligently justify their choices. Each course is designed by the student by creating a syllabus and then after approval, the student completes all assignments therein with the idea of improving their knowledge base and research skills. A course can be designed to give 2, 3, or 4 semester hours of credit. All work is graded.
Students can also take CLEP exams, attend approved workshops for CEU credits, take an on-campus course from another accredited college or university, or complete an approved project, internship, practicum, do an online research project or any other unique educational method. Individual Option promotes accademic freedom and the flexibility to achieve the greatest possible combination of practical experience to develop and cultivate one's skills and expertise. (See "How it Works" below)
The following Syllabus formats are used to create and complete work needed for credit:
Advantages of Interdisciplinary Programs
In addition, most student's programs have been and will be interdisciplinary. The advantages and benefits are too great to ignore. For example:
In a study conducted by William Newell and James Davis in 1988, researchers found that students who study interdisciplinarity are more likely to develop: affective cognitive skills; reading, writing, speaking, and thinking skills; higher curiosity for learning; more creativity and originality in thought processes; and an ability to integrate traditional ideas with current ideas. The benefits of finding creative and integrative ways to combine disciplines far outweigh the disadvantages of interdisciplinarity.
(Janina Misiewicz, The Benefits and Challenges of Interdisciplinarity; 2017: https://press.rebus.community/idsconnect/chapter/the-benefits-and-challenges-of-interdisciplinarity
Some positive points are:
It help students overcome a tendency to maintain preconceived or biased notions.
It opens the door to adopting a greater range of methodologies and promotes integration of ideas.
Since the world is fundamentally interdisciplinary by nature, therefore:
According to The National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE 1995) "educational experiences are more authentic and of greater value to students when the curricula reflects real life, which is multi-faceted rather than being compartmentalized into neat subject-matter packages." In their view, real-world problems are complex, so no single discipline can adequately describe and resolve these issues. Therefore, they are not surprised that interdisciplinary forms of learning are prevalent and growing in abundance and stature throughout higher education (Edwards, 1996, Gaff & Ratclif, 1997, and Liein, 1996).
(Starting Point: Teaching and Learning Economics, Why Teach with an Interdisciplinary Approach?; 2017: https://serc.carleton.edu/econ/interdisciplinary/why.html
In our global society, individuals prosper who are fluent in several disciplines.
Student must develop an essential disciplinary competence in order to analyze, synthesize and integrate different information, data, techniques, tools, concepts, and theories that an interdisciplinary program requires.
In other words, students tend to cover topics in greater depth and as a result interdisciplinary thinkers analytically and creatively embrace new possible ideas and innovation as they study new ways of looking at things.
Specialized traditional education often reinforces preexisting systems which makes it more difficult to enact change, create new inventions and discover new solutions. That is, without challenging one's mind with different perspectives, one can be deprived of what is valuable, useful, creative and relatively unknown in separate-divergent fields.
Students discover the value of integrating various academic disciplines and how it can lead to greater insight into things as they really are. They learn to sift through theoretical cutter, identify valid and invalid research and develop the ability to find hidden gems or what is best and most valuable in other disciplines.
Students, in effect, prepare themselves for careers in new and emerging fields.
By building their own pathway, students, using an interdisciplinary approach, generally foster a love of learning as a way of life.
Not all students will choose an interdisciplinary approach, but it usually takes place unwittingly without trying to do so through a research design especially to identify best practices and what one should study for the most advantageous future outcome.
How it Works
With an interdisciplinary, individual option approach, there is no end to what one can study. With this in mind, students are encourage to study what they do not know, not what they have already mastered.
Some majors, obviously, cannot be offered as they require "hands on" experience; such as, extensive scientific lab work and experimentation. However, in some cases, obviously not in all cases, this can be overcome by taking a course or courses at a local college or creating an internship or practicum that would provide the needed experience.
As part of one's program, a student could attend relevant workshops, take CLEP courses, be given credit for applicable work experience, transfer earned credit from another college or university, or attend a pertinent conference for partial credit. Ten accredited CEU hours are generally considered to be the equivalent a semester hour of academic credit. 35 approved continuing education contact hours generally are equal or equivalent to one semester hour. Adding workshops in the design of a course is encouraged as the leaders often present the very best and most useful information they have learn from years of experience. In addition, textbooks and/or books can be chosen from the most advanced minds in their field to best promote superior learning. There are also other ways to achieve useful and important expertise and enhance the richness of one's experience, which is so important in developing and cultivating one's skills, confidence and know-how.
As an example of the flexibility that can make for a superior education, one student took a three quarter hour graduate class in research from Utah State University, and then studied and made a very interesting report on a book entitled, How to Lie with Statistics and a textbook on fallacies in the science of research to get a better handle on research at its best and research that is flawed, open to bias, and having too many variables for an accurate outcome. He received four semester credit hours and an "A" for the course he developed and implemented.
Certain professional fields require licensure or certification. It is the student's responsibility and obligation to make sure the appropriate licensing or certification board will approve of the credit and degree earned at a British internationally accredited university. However, in the counseling field, nursing, education and in a number of others areas, a person who already has licensure or certification, does not need to worry about this in obtaining additional expertise by earning a masters or doctorate in their chosen profession.
Because there is an infinite variety of subjects a student can major or minor in, the University may not have faculty who are experts in the field in question. Though our instructors are scholars, researchers and choice practitioners skilled and talented in the individual option, interdisciplinary process, they do not know all fields. How this problem is overcome is by the requirement that a student find an expert in the field of his or her particular interest who is willing to help. This person will be invited to serve on the Graduation Committee to help ensure a positive, practical, high quality outcome that makes sense and will be valuable to the student's future. If this person requires a fee in order to serve, the student will be responsible for it, but no more than $500.00 is to be paid out. If the current faculty have expertise in the field, no outside professional or scholar will be needed except students in a masters and doctoral program. See "The Associate's Level Program," "The Expert or Bachelor's Level Program," "The Advanced Expert Status or Master's Program," or "The Advanced Professional or Research Doctorate")
Students are responsible to equip their instructors with a copy of whatever textbooks or other resources they mutually determined should be used during the course. Otherwise, the instructor will not be able to accurately assess student progress and provide feedback that is helpful. Hence, this is a necessity.
The application process is where graduation begins. What is wanted, needed and practical must be identified, so that an initial plan can be created to fulfill one's objectives. Adjustments, of course, can and will be made along the way, but when the focus is on what is of factual interest to the student, it becomes highly motivating and makes the knowledge studied of much greater personal relevance, worth and meaning.
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