At U. of Maryland, an Effort to Make Introductory Courses Extraordinary

At U. of Maryland, an Effort to Make Introductory Courses Extraordinary 1

Joey Pulone for The Chronicle

Undergraduates at the U. of Maryland at College Park present their research via a poster session as part of a new-style introductory course on "Materials of Civilization." The course teaches "a bunch of science and physics," its instructor says. "But it's not dry Physics 101."

Required introductory courses are as important as they are unloved.

They are a key part of the general-education curriculum, which makes up as much as one-third of the typical baccalaureate student's education, and they are the subject of seemingly never-ending revitalization efforts.

Many senior faculty members avoid teaching such courses because they see them as being filled with callow students with little interest in the subject. Students often see them as the curricular