Academic Senate
Santa Barbara Division

General Education Workgroup

Minutes of the Meeting of February 7, 2003

Members Present: J. Heinen (GSA Rep.), M. Higa (Student Rep.), D. Kohl (Undergraduate Council; Chair, Student Affairs Committee), C. Lawson (AS President), H. Marcuse (Co-Chair, GE Workgroup; Undergraduate Council; Chair, Committee on Undergraduate Academic Programs and Policy), C. Michel (Co-Chair, GE Workgroup; Vice Chair, Undergraduate Council), D. Montello (L&S Executive Committee Rep.), A. Wyner (Dean, Undergraduate Studies, L&S), X. Zhao (Undergraduate Council)

Others Present: D. Blake (Analyst, Undergraduate Council), C. Chapman (Director, Academic Senate), S. Mcleod (GE Workgroup Consultant; Undergraduate Council; Director, Writing Program), D. Segura (Chair, Undergraduate Council)

Announcements

GE Workgroup Co-Chair Harold Marcuse confirmed that Dean Moscovits as well as Chairs and Undergraduate Advisors from the MLPS departments will meet with the Workgroup on February 14 in one of the UCEN meeting rooms. Mr. Marcuse distributed and summarized a planning paper for upcoming meetings with divisional deans and departmental representatives. The Workgroup concurred that meetings with each division will be necessary, not just with MLPS. In preparation for the MLPS meeting next Friday, Undergraduate Council member David Kohl and Mr. Marcuse will work on interpreting data on availability and enrollment levels of GE approved courses, particularly in the MLPS departments (in appendix of 1st GE taskforce report).

As an issue for the other divisional meetings, clarification is needed as to why some history courses, for example, are approved for Area D and not Area E and vice versa. (The History 17 series, for example, is in area D, although it does not offer a social science approach.) Such miscategorization is evidence of the confusion in the current GE program, and the lack of consistent management over the years.

Since a primary point of discussion with the MLPS chairs is whether 2 or 3 area C courses should be required in the new GE program, there ensued a longer discussion about whether there was a need for a reduction in the overall number of GE courses. Although reducing time to degree was not in the GE taskforce charge, a simpler system that might streamline the path to graduation was seen as desirable for a new GE program. Al Wyner, Dean of Undergraduate Studies in L&S, pointed out that, while time to degree is a concern of the College, the need for completion of GE requirements has little or no effect on time to graduation..

If we reduce the number of courses in the GE Program, we need to have a pedagogical rationale for the change. This GE Workgroup has not yet clearly established its overall pedagogical beliefs. It was suggested that this would be the best place to start in determining how to go about refining the proposal of the GE Task Force. Why are the humanities and fine arts, taken together, weighted twice as heavily in GE at MLPS and Social Sciences (now 7 courses in areas E,F,G vs. 3 in D and 3 in C)? IGETC weights these equally at 3-3-3. It was suggested that the emphasis on humanities and arts goes back to the old idea of a liberal education grounded in the humanities. There was strong sentiment that times have changed, and detailed knowledge of science and social science are increasingly important in todayís world, more so than only decades ago.

This would imply either substantial increases in science requirements (given resources, not an option), or a substantial reduction of GE requirements in areas E, F, and G. There would likely be an outcry by the affected departments if change were more than incremental (the taskforce proposed a reduction from 7 to 6, while 5 or even 4 would be more in line with the other areas. What weight is given to these divisions on our campus, as evidenced by studentsí choice of majors?

A very rough estimate of numbers of students in each divisionwould be 25% of students undertaking majors in MLPS, 40% in Social Sciences, and 35% in Humanities and Fine Arts. However, not numbers, but pedagogic rationale should drive our weighting. How many courses would it take to develop "general" competence in an area, and in how many areas should students have competence? We can start this discussion with the science chairs on 2/14.

Mr. Wyner noted that average BA students take about one-third of their total units as major requirements, one-third as GE courses, and one-third as electives. The students present were asked which divisions they were most likely to select electives from. The students concurred that most studentsí electives are chosen from the same division in which their major is. After that, the adjacent division was most likely, with social scientists going either to MLPS or HFA, depending on their emphasis. Additional factors affecting the choice were the appeal of the courses offered, and availability of courses that fit into oneís schedule.

Web site policy and procedure

There was discussion regarding the posting of meeting notes on the GE Workgroup Main Page, as opposed to only approved minutes, as this had been cited as potentially problematic. Why is it essential to post detailed notes prior to and in addition to posting approved minutes? Mr. Marcuse indicated that he wants to clarify our progress to Workgroup members and also make it possible for them to let him know if he has not properly understood their viewpoints from the discussion. His intention is also to have a fairly detailed record of our deliberations, not only for us, but for any interested parties.

When asked if there is a danger in publicizing opinions and other information that is likely to change as our deliberations proceed, Mr. Marcuse confirmed that he would bring to our discussions any feedback he receives in response to what he posts, and sees this kind of exchange as potentially beneficial to our efforts. It was suggested that Mr. Marcuse attach a disclaimer at the top of the web page stating that what is discussed in our meetings is a work in progress and does not necessarily reflect the eventual outcome of the GE Workgroupís total efforts. He will add this disclaimer to the web page. [The text reads: "Please note: the co-chair's notes and the official minutes contain information about an ongoing discussion--we explore ideas that may later be modified or abandoned. We welcome your feedback on these issues. It is an essential part of the exploration process."]

Criteria for Core Courses

Current policy regarding the use of AP and IB credit for completion of GE requirements was discussed. Both AP and IB (International Baccalaureate) coursework does currently satisfy GE in many cases, while some departments do not allow such courses to satisfy major requirements. A chart of these equivalencies can be found at: http://www.catalog.ucsb.edu/gechart.htm. UC Berkeley has a blanket policy against it (see http://ls-advise.berkeley.edu/requirements/lsreq.html), and UCLA will soon follow this practice. This issue was already discussed and affirmed by the UCSB GE task force. It was noted that the number of units high school students have when entering UC has essentially no bearing on the time to degree. Students without AP/IB units must work harder and have less flexibility than students entering with such units. Faculty members suggested that the nature of high school courses is quite different than the educational experience at UC, even if the same content is covered. The students present were asked for their impressions on this topic.

One student stated thatthat his AP courses were quite different from the courses he would have been required to take without this privilege. Other students agreed. Also, an AP score of only 3 or higher (IB 5 or higher) qualifies a course for UC credit. (One UC has 4 or higher; Harvard now only accepts the top AP score of 5.) It is very easy to attain such a score, and those students miss out on an important UC course.

The work group unanimously agreed that its proposal to the Undergraduate Council will disallow use of AP and IB coursework to satisfy GE requirements. This decision was also based on matters of equity regarding lack of availability to all high school students, as well as the belief that one of the goals of the GE Program is to provide a common experience for all UCSB students.

Mr. Wyner noted that there has recently been a sharp rise in the number of AP/IB units students bring with them to UC. The entering class this year had an average of 15 AP/IB units per student. One student had 65. This reaffirmed the work groupís conviction that AP/IB should not satisfy GE.

It was noted that the IB curriculum includes an "extended essay" of 4000 words. Perhaps an exception should be granted for this IB writing course as a special requirement. More information on the IB can be found at www.ibo.org. Foreign languages should probably also be exempted from this rule. Finally, math was another area where an exception was considered, since it is very hierarchical and content-oriented. However, faculty have observed that students with AP calculus often flounder in the next level math course at UCSB. This would imply that GE credit should not be granted automatically in this area. This issue might be taken up at the MLPS meeting.

A discussion of the impact of this decision followed. Would it discourage students from taking such courses in high school? It might lessen the incentive, but there are still benefits, namely they still get units towards graduation, and admissions offices will still look favorably on such more motivated and advanced students. Current UC students may react strongly , since their flexibility in choice of courses would be curtailed. However, that is precisely the point of GE: to encourage and require students to take courses they otherwise would not take.

If this proposal is enacted, it could significantly impact the number of students "competing" for enrollment in what we expect will be a reduced number of GE courses on the list. Such a policy would have its greatest impact in the area of writing, since many students test out of writing 2 and 50 with AP scores of 4 or 5. It was reiterated that, while we canít ignore resource issues, we also canít allow factors related to resources to deter us from making sound pedagogical decisions. Resource allocations should be driven by our best effort at reaching our pedagogical goals. We will need to revisit this issue when we discuss the writing requirement, and when we discuss implementation. We need to find out how many students currently use AP/IB to fulfill GE requirements.

Discussion of the minimum number of units for GE courses resulted in agreement that all GE courses should be at least 3 units. It was agreed that the number of hours of work required in a GE approved course should be commensurate with that of a four-unit course. However, the group recognized that there are certain three-unit courses (science courses that may not include a separate 1 unit lab) that fit this criterion and are therefore appropriate for GE.

With regard to requiring that all GE courses be open to non-majors, the issue of being able to satisfy a core area with a major or minor in that core area was discussed. Mr. Marcuse thought this would be an easy way to pare down the number of GE-approved courses. However, Mr. Wyner noted that a significant problem arises when students change their majors (38% of freshmen are undeclared). Students should know whatís required of them at all times, but in this situation the GE requirements would change every time they change their major. Still, it is misleading to include courses on the GE list that are only open to majors on the first pass. This topic will require further discussion at a future meeting. We will need to obtain data on how many students change majors from division to division, and how many courses they usually have successfully completed before they change, in order to assess the magnitude of this problem. Majors such as psychology, anthropology and geography, which can have emphases in either MLPS or the social sciences, will require special consideration.

The workgroup was unanimous that GE courses should not require prerequisites, with the exception of courses that are part of a GE sequence or that require upper division standing. Especially large departments such as Communication, Economics, Law and Society, and Psychology for example, have many courses where only majors can register on the first pass. Ms. Segura noted that many current upper division sociology courses with prerequisites satisfy GE area D, ethnicity and writing. This policy might have a substantial impact on enrollments. More data on this issue is necessary. If primarily soc. students use these courses to fulfill GE, then the impact might be minimal.

GE courses should not be limited to lower division because a significant number of transfer students arrive not having fulfilled all their GE requirements, but they do have upper-division standing and should not be required to take lower division units. Approximately one-third of transfer students have not completed IGETC and thus still have GE courses to complete. If we offer upper division GE courses, these students can complete quotas for upper division units and GE requirements simultaneously.

Inclusion of writing as a component of core courses is seen as a problem of resource management across divisions. Some departments, such as Asian American Studies, would like to offer more writing in their GE courses, but they do not have the resources. Also, they do not have sufficient graduate students to staff the courses, and it is more work to train TAs from other departments. Other courses popular for GE would not be appropriate for including writing, for instance psychology and anthropology.

The unionization of TAís has reduced the number of students for whom a TA can given responsibility in a given course. We now have about 100 courses that meet the Area A writing requirement, but are not approved for GE core areas. Ms. McLeod believes that the current model of offering specific writing intensive courses is the best we can do at this time, given available resources and class size issues. There was a question as to whether our high prioritization of the need to teach better writing skills warrants an accelerated effort in securing additional resources. This optimism was countered with a warning that no 4-unit GE freshman seminars will be offered next year due to budgetary constraints. However, 72 one-unit freshman seminars (with no GE value) were taught this year as a teaching overload in exchange for a $1500 research stipend, and next yearís goal is to offer 95 of these seminars. Since there is no buyout of faculty from the departments, this is a much cheaper option.

It was announced that the Workgroup Co-Chairs will meet to discuss different models of GE writing curricula with Ms. McLeod at the Coral Tree Café at 12:30 on Monday, February 10. Workgroup members are welcome to attend. [The following site contains content standards for courses similar to our Area A requirement: http://www.english.ilstu.edu/hesse/outcomes.html. Sarah Pritchard and Sandy Lewis of the library committee want to have input on this requirement, and should be invited to the relevant work group meeting.]

Concerning the frequency of offering of GE-approved courses, it was noted that there should be a hibernation policy built into the GE Program. While there was general agreement that GE courses should be available at least every two years, it was considered that every three years might be more realistic. However, any GE course should be available to a cohort at least once during a four-year period. The policy on course hibernation will be checked to see if it makes any distinction in regard to GE courses. There needs to be a reasonable standard regarding frequency of course offerings, and those administering the GE Program need to have the perception and courage to contact a department chair to say that it doesnít appear that the departmentís resources are adequate to offer a course as a GE course if it cannot meet frequency standards.

Related to the issue of frequency of offering are course enrollment levels. The remaining members of the work group thought it would not be feasible to set maximum or minimum enrollments (or certain student FTE per year) for GE courses. However, large core courses used by many students for GE core areas would have to maintain predictable capacity over time. This might be a task for the person or committee overseeing GE.

Issues related to majors and minors will be further discussed at a future meeting, as will the topic of writing. However, there appears to be agreement that writing canít and probably shouldnít be used as a criterion for core GE courses.

Mr. Marcuse and Mr. Kohl will work together on a plan for conducting the consultation meeting with MLPS representatives on February 14. We will meet in the UCEN next week. [Harbor room]

Attest: Harold Marcuse and Claudine Michel


prepared for web by H. Marcuse, 3/15/03
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