Santa Barbara Division
General Education Workgroup and MLPS Dean, Chairs, Advisors
Minutes of the Meeting of February 14, 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: Ė J. Allen (Chair, Physics), T. Atwater (Geological Sciences), D. Blake (Analyst, Undergraduate Council), C. Chapman (Director, Academic Senate), R. Feldman (Statistics and Applied Probability), R. Garcia (Undergraduate Program Assistant, Mathematics), Grette Halle (Undergraduate Advisor, Psychology), D. Harris (Chemistry and Biochemistry), S. Jammalamadaka (Statistics and Applied Probability), A. Kroes (Undergraduate Advisor, Biological Sciences), B. Luyendyk (Chair, Geological Sciences), D. Mackie (Psychology), S. Mcleod (GE Workgroup Consultant; Undergraduate Council; Director, Writing Program), J. Michaelsen (Geography), M. Moscovits (Dean, Division of MLPS, L&S) S. Parsons (Chair, Chemistry and Biochemistry) C. Prieto (Undergraduate Affairs, Chemistry and Biochemistry), S. Reimers (Undergraduate Advisor, Mathematics), D. Segura (Chair, Undergraduate Council), W. Yuen (Chair, Academic Senate),
GE Workgroup Co-Chair Harold Marcuse identified the three main goals of the meeting as 1) clearly defining the problems related to the current GE Program; 2) discussing strategies for the new proposal that would best alleviate these; and 3) allowing hearing concerns of MLPS representatives to express concerns that are specific to their discipline and their departments.
Mr. Marcuse summarized the rationale for the reduction to two courses in Area C proposed by the GE Task Force, but stated that the GE Workgroup favors leaving the requirement at 3 courses.
It was suggested that a brief review of the content of the current area requirements might be helpful. GE Program booklets were distributed so that participants could see which courses are currently approved for each area.
One department representative noted that the previous wave of VERIPs in the 1990s resulted in a shortage of faculty, which affected availability of GE offerings in some departments. However, now that many vacancies have been filled, this is no longer a major problem. Others agreed noted that there was more a the problem is really a of lack of appropriate courses designed for GE than lack of faculty to willing to teach GE courses.
Senate Chair Walter Yuen, a former member of the Task Force, clarified that it was the impression of the GE Task Force that there was a shortage of GE-appropriate courses in MLPS, and that this was one of the issues prompting the proposed reduction to two courses in the Task Force proposal. He indicated that it would be helpful to know the facts on this issue. There were mixed opinions as to whether there are actually enough GE courses in the sciences available to fulfill the goals of the GE Program at this time. Participants were asked to refer to pages 8 and 9 of the GE booklet to assess the availability and appropriateness of the courses listed. It was noted that we should have data on course capacity. One department noted that some of its GE offerings are not fully enrolled.
Dean Moscovits asked, "Who is the arbiter of whether or not a course is appropriate for non-majors." It was acknowledged that faculty, in the end, are the arbiters, in collaboration with the Academic Senate committee that reviews GE course proposals. It was noted that "non-majors" is not the best term to use in discussing the type of students who take GE courses. It was admitted that we still donít have a good definition of what a GE course is. This is one of our goals. One department representative stated that GE courses are used to inform, excite, and recruit Ė to introduce students to disciplines other than their own. Some departments offer GE courses in order to attract students into their major, while others offer GE courses as a service to interested students.
Mr. Marcuse informed the group that the GE Workgroup is in favor of not including courses on the GE list that have prerequisites, with the exception of GE sequences and courses that require only upper division standing. It was noted that a course should be designed differently for a students who will only take one course in a given field than for a students who will go on to take other courses in that field. It was thought by some that the GE program should include courses of both naturestypes. Discussion of how math skills play into the issue of prerequisites led to the consideration that courses with math prerequisites might also be added to the list of exceptions.
There was a comment that some courses on the GE list that have prerequisites were added to the list so that GE credit could be gained from courses taken prior to a change in the major. This approach to reason for adding GE courses to the list was said to be has in part of created the current problem that we want to get away fromare trying to solve. The GE Workgroup believes this problem can best be done avoided by defining what we actually think a GE course should be, and then administering the program so as to maintain the agreed upon standard. Mr. Marcuse stated that it is also an issue of concern to the GE Workgroup that a good number a substantial number of courses on the GE list are only open to majors, as this is not what the intention of GE is about.
The representatives present were asked to respond from their departmentís perspective to the various issues that had been discussed and to indicate whether they think there should be a common GE program for the BS and BA students.
Representatives from the Psychology Department said that about 2/3 of their students earn the BA degree while 1/3 earn the BS, with the ratio moving in the direction of more BS students. The department would like to keep as many of its currently approved GE courses as possible on the list, as they are all thought to be appropriate. The department is comfortable with having different GE requirements for BA and BS students.
The Physics Department representative stated that the same was true for his department and that it would be opposed to a reduction in the number of science requirements.
The representatives from Geological Sciences indicated that, while they do want writing to be included in some of their courses, they would not want a rule that requires it for all courses. They stated that students choose to earn the BS whenever they can because of the reduced GE requirement, which is the only difference between the two degrees in regard to the number of units required.
The representative from Geography reported that the departmental ratio for BA to BS students was about 4:1. The department does not favor a reduction in the number of science requirements, but it was agreed that there is room for designing courses that would more appropriately fit the vision for GE, preferably with a mix of options being optimal. The representative stated that BS students should take as broad a selection of courses as possible. He said that while some courses should focus on writing, this should notnít be required for all GE courses.
The representatives were satisfied with the quantitative requirement in the current GE Program, and they would not want inclusion of quantitative skills to be a gateway requirement for core GE courses.
Regarding the issue of breadth versus depth in the various science fields, there was agreement among the representatives that the choice should be left open to students. They would not want the distribution requirement that was once in effect to be reestablished.
The participants were asked if students in their departments have a difficult time completing GE requirements by the expected time of graduation. The representatives from Psychology said no, while those from Geology said yes. One of the Biology representatives commented that students in his department are discouraged from overloading themselves with courses in the major at the beginning, so students tend to get GE requirements out of the way early on.
There was unanimous agreement that the GE Workgroup should not concern itself with trying to devise a common GE program for BA and BS students. There was also agreement that writing should not be a requirement for core courses, but that some courses should provide training in discipline specific writing. Overall, the representatives thought that science students are being adequately served by the current GE Program, but that some weeding out of inappropriate courses is advisable.