The Oracle

Overworked and undercredited

Digital Media Arts students are feeling the strain of their Senior Seminar capstone.

Chloe McElmury, Senior Columnist

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A month before my 22nd birthday, I’m feeling old and worn down. 18 credits and about four on-campus jobs is a lot for one semester. One thing that isn’t helping? A full year of senior seminar for my Digital Media Arts (DMA) major. Unlike most majors at Hamline, DMA requires two capstone courses.

In the fall comes 5910, where DMA majors critically think and propose a “major media art project,” according to the course description. This first semester gives a “W” from the Hamline Plan, as students write a critical research draft and project proposal. In spring, 5920 sees the proposed project through to completion, exhibition and reflection. Students are also awarded the “Q.” The only problem with all of this? Each semester only gives out two credits.

If you’re a prospective DMA major, get ready to spend much more time in this course than other two credit courses. DMA 5910 and 5920 are both once a week, three hour night classes. Hamline follows its credit rules as per the Federal guidelines from the US Department of Education. These guidelines define one credit hour as one academic hour of class or direct faculty instruction and at least two hours of out of class work each week for about 15 weeks.

Natalie Pieterick, a senior currently in DMA 5910, thinks this doesn’t line up with the work we’re doing in class.

“I think it’s interesting that we are using the same amount of class time as a four credit class but still only getting two credits,” Pieterick said.

Another two credit course offered this semester, Beginning Voice, meets just one hour a week.

For me personally, I know I’ve already put in much more time than what two credits is worth. Writing and revising a five to seven page research paper takes up a lot of that, and we’re only a little more than halfway through the semester! We will still have a project proposal to do and a proof of concept for that project to complete. In our second week of class, we had to create something each day for five days, and we were supposed to take up to an hour on that each day. We could have had five hours of homework from that week alone!

DMA Senior Megan Vick agrees that the  workload  is absurd.

“The amount of work we do accounts for much more than four credits. I know going into last semester I treated it how I would a two credit class and ended up putting much more effort into the class than I had initially anticipated.”

Vick actually started her first senior seminar course last semester, which is a rarity in the DMA major. Usually, students are stuck having to complete the courses sequentially from fall to spring. Now in 5920, Vick firmly believes the DMA capstone courses are much more work than a two credit course.

“Even now I feel as if I’m doing the same amount of work in DMA 5920 as I was in my Studio Art Senior Seminar, which was relatively the same thing as this class except it was four credits,” Vick said.

To give the senior seminar some credit, we do have a lot of class time off for a few weeks as we virtually edit each others’ research drafts through Google Docs. However, we still have a whole spring semester ahead of us to actually make our projects and exhibit them at the yearly senior show. I asked Vick if she thought the DMA senior seminar really needed to be the full year. It’s quite unique for a senior seminar to require two semesters of effort.

She argued that it doesn’t need to be the full year: “I understand the first semester, we are trying to create critically and have our first big projects as emerging artists, but writing a research paper isn’t what makes artists think about their work critically, actually creating does.”

I firmly believe that a lot of the critical thinking at the beginning of the semester could have been condensed. We spent a full month on our creative process and then a whole night presenting on a new artist we found. Surely, this could have been shortened or excluded all together to create a one semester only senior seminar instead.

I definitely agree with Vick, but because I’m a Professional Writing major as well as DMA, I don’t mind the writing. However, doing four credits worth of work for only two credits hurts me just a little bit, deep down.

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Overworked and undercredited