I am a huge fan of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Every day I get newsletters and every week I get the full Chronicle. If you’re in Higher Education, I strongly recommend it.
Anyhoo, in the newsletter yesterday, I was struck by the headline “Clever, Catchy and Descriptive? A forum on Effective Course Naming.” (http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/clever-catchy-descriptive-a-forum-on-effective-course-naming/44390?cid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en)
It instantly reminded me of a chat I had during a flight from LA to Sydney next to another academic. She was in engineering and was lamenting the shrinking of her area. Her department head suggested that they would be able to attract more students if they changed the program name to “Corrosion Engineering and Media Studies”.
It was a joke….at that time.
Are we really at the point where we are coming up with catchy course names to entice students to enrol?
In the article, the author explains he was trying to be a bit cheeky with the title and it may have simply confused the students and prevented them from enrolling. He titled it “Pamphlets & Pirates in Antebellum US Print Culture.” and I agree with his comment – It has pirates in the title! Who wouldn’t want to take this course?! But as he said – funny to him, obscure to the students.
One of the best things about the Chronicle online is the comments that follow the articles. One reader is going to be offering a course called “iPad Sex Ferrari, 90210”. I would sign up just to meet the person who came up with that.
Luckily, I have a pretty popular course – Abnormal Psychology. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s compulsory. I have no idea what new name would entice students more.
Abnormal Psychology, Pirates and Media Studies?