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Beida launches general reform on undergraduate education

MAY . 06 2016
Peking University, May 5, 2016: On April 26th, “The guiding principle of Peking University undergraduate education comprehensive reform” was published on the official web portal of Peking University (portal.pku.edu.cn) with the attached file “The implementation gist of 2016 Peking University undergraduate education reform (Trial)”.
For the first time the set of honorary Bachelor degree was announced, along with the permission of changing majors freely inside the faculty and independent further study based on the accomplishment of minimum compulsory credit requirements.
“The guiding principle” clarified the basic idea of this reform as “cultivating virtues and morality” with an extension of “enhancing foundation, improving inter-discipline, respecting choice and polishing teaching”.
Practice general education within major study
As “The implementation gist” requires, every department and faculty should improve the combination of major study and general education in their programs. The minimum compulsory credits should be set for the graduation. After finishing the compulsory courses students can choose the others based on their own preference and advantages for further study. In this way, students can form their own knowledge and capability system with personal characteristics. Individual and interdisciplinary learning will be encouraged by credits for self-determined courses.
Construction of more multilevel and distinctive cross-disciplinary undergraduate programs is encouraged among unites at all levels including cross-disciplinary major, double major, minor, micro major, multidisciplinary courses and course modules. They will be financially supported by special funds.
Departments with suitable conditions can set honorary Bachelor degrees and related regulations to motivate students to take part in more challenging honorary courses and creative activities.
Change major freely inside the same faculty
“The implementation gist” put forward that this year PKU will still enroll students by faculties and departments but practice the newly launched rules (students in Yuanpei College not included). From the autumn semester in 2016, both compulsory and optional courses in every department should be open for all the undergraduate students on condition that the teaching resource allows. And from the spring semester in 2017, undergraduate students in their first or second year can apply for changing major except those who are restricted to do so in their enrollment requirement. Changing majors within the faculty is in principle permitted.
Reform teaching and assessment methods
According to the “Implementation”, the teaching methods should be centered on discovery and exploration and encourage the communication between teachers and students. More courses of small size are required for targeted counseling so that students will get more inspiration and motivation.
The new document also pointed out the importance of reforming students’ assessment methods .The process evaluation should be put more weight on and the assessment feedback should be emphasized. Also, PKU is going to perfect the teachers’ assessment system. “Peking University Distinguished Teaching Award” will be ranked as the highest honor to recognize teachers’ great contribution, spread their experiences and form the teaching atmosphere of pursuing excellence.
Despite some remarkable achievements in recent years, Peking University undergraduate education reform still has a long way to go before achieving the goal of “cultivating the leaders of future”. For instance, students do not have full access to courses in other faculties and departments. In-class lecture remains the most prevailing teaching method, resulting limited interactions as well as the ignorance of students’ cultivation of quality. There is also the problem of improper allocation of teaching resources.
The idea of the reform has already taken its form during the revise of Peking University undergraduate education project in 2014. This time the remarkable change is that the statement of “improving inter-discipline” ranks the second place from the forth, indicating the new reform focus.
Written by: Wang Zehua
Edited by: Yan Shengnan