Administrators suspend team-taught honors classes

Megan Sears
Staff Writer

Team-teaching in the honors program will be suspended effective in spring 2017, pending study to determine whether the long-standing but expensive La Verne tradition is actually worth the price.

Team-teaching allows two professors from different disciplines to work together to teach one course. It gives students the opportunity to be taught by two professors who have different approaches to the same subject.

These courses, which bring together art and math, communications and history among other pairings, have traditionally been offered through the honors program.

“Interdisciplinary programs and degrees are becoming more and more common, so it is my opinion that by eliminating these courses, ULV would be taking a huge step backwards,” said ULV alumna Katie Rosenthal. “I think one of the biggest draws of team-taught classes is that it gives students that are interested in one side of a topic an opportunity to see that subject through the perspective of a professor completely out of that discipline.”

Team-taught classes taught this fall will continue as scheduled, but no such courses will be scheduled in the near future.

Ian Lising, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said paying two teachers for one class may be fiscally irresponsible and that it is hard to determine the best practices for the University.

The proof of benefits has to come through a research study, he said.

Sean Bernard, associate professor of creative writing and director the honors program, said informal surveys are being emailed to former honors students to gather their opinions on the teaching method, and see if they believe it beneficial.

“Team-taught courses helped me empathize and identify with my professors,” ULV alumna Mary Anne Mendoza said. “The dynamic of more than one instructor displayed how more than one perspective could be correct, even if the disciplines differ as they often did within team-taught courses of the honors program.”

Throughout ULV history there have been team-taught courses, but in more recent years team-teaching has been uniquely identified with the honors program.

“Team-teaching itself goes way back into the days of La Verne College, at least into the 1950s,” Al Clark, professor of humanities, said. “However, team teaching as it has been scheduled until recently was a fundamental and distinctive characteristic of the honors program, which began in 1988.”

“The University holds interdisciplinary thinking as one of its values,” Mendoza said.

“We would be remiss in our attempt to do honor to interdisciplinary thinking by doing away with courses in which students experience professors collaborating across disciplines to approach similar problems in different ways.”

In the past, there have been several courses that make the honors program different.

For example, there was a Disneyland team-taught course, the language of art, invisible theater and many more.

“We covered a wider range of academic content by having more than one professor,” Mendoza said.

“Moreover, we learned valuable lessons about how to collaborate, respectfully disagree, and make room for other perspectives,” she said. “Such lessons cannot be learned simply by reading about them or being told of their importance. These lessons are learned through the experience of team-taught courses.”

Another issue raised was that with team-taught courses there is no system in place to evaluate each of the professors teaching a team-taught course.

Course evaluation forms only evaluate the class as a whole, and evaluations from students sometimes focus on one teacher or the other.

A committee is being put together to determine if team-teaching in the honors program is beneficial.

Once the committee submits its findings, the University can then rule on whether to restore team-taught classes, Lising said.

Megan Sears can be reached at

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