Academic Senate
Santa Barbara Division

General Education Workgroup
Minutes of the Meeting of March 14, 2003
[draft reviewed by H. Marcuse]

Members Present: J. Heinen (GSA Rep.), M. Higa (AS 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), X. Zhao (Undergraduate Council)

Others Present: D. Blake (Analyst, Undergraduate Council), M. Dahleh (Assistant Dean, Student Services), M. Lopez (AS Rep.), D. Gustavez (AS Rep.), J. Proctor (Undergraduate Council), D. Segura (Chair, Undergraduate Council)


A synopsis of the meeting with the social science dean and department chairs was provided. The workgroup discussed Dean Woolley and Beth Schneider’s suggestion that departments be asked to determine a set of about five currently offered courses that are considered to be at the core of their respective disciplines. This selection of courses could then be sorted into the core areas we are considering to see if it results in the foundation of a viable GE program. There was some doubt expressed as to how productive this would be, but Undergraduate Chair Denise Segura and some members felt that, in addition to collecting potentially useful information, it would get curriculum committees thinking about GE changes and possibly promote buy-in from departments. Ms. Segura distributed a memo drafted for this purpose that would initially be sent to the social science chairs. [note 4/25: a revised version of this memo was presented at the 4/18 meeting, but it was tabled because it might create more confusion than the benefits of the information it would provide]

It was suggested that departments might also be asked to review their list of currently approved GE courses to discern whether some might no longer be appropriate to remain on the GE list. There was concern that this might induce fear of losing courses, thereby defeating the buy-in goal. There was further discussion of the possibility of "trimming" the GE list prior to the legislation of a new GE Program.

It was decided that we should move on to discussing the list of criteria that appears on today’s agenda (attached) to see how much agreement we have at this point, since this will be essential to any screening process we pursue. The current list was created by integrating the list drafted by Dan Montello (attached) into the list Mr. Marcuse has been developing throughout the workgroup’s deliberations. There does seem to be considerable agreement regarding several of the criteria items we’ve been discussing. However, the issue of AP needs further discussion with regard to the impact of suggested changes. We still don’t have data to make this assessment. [data was available at the Apr. 18 meeting]

There appears to be consensus among the workgroup members that all GE courses should be open to non-majors on the first registration pass.

With regard to prerequisites, Mr. Marcuse noted the suggestion offered at the social science meeting that during the first registration pass 10 spaces be left open for non-majors in majors-only upper-division courses. After examining the factors related to such an arrangement, this proposal was rejected. The workgroup had previously agreed that prerequisites should be allowed for GE courses only if they are part of a GE sequence, and then only one course should be allowed. There was discussion as to whether the one required course might not be another GE course. It was stated by one member that certain courses in area C don’t seem appropriate for GE. Other sequence-related questions pointed toward the question of whether or not a petition process should be implemented as part of administering the GE Program.

Currently, the way exceptions get made is to approve courses and add them to the GE booklet. It was again asked, if there is a hierarchical sequence (often the case in area C), should such courses be considered general education? This issue becomes especially relevant when a student changes to a different major. There is currently a lack of consistency in the way departments apply GE credit for the various prerequisites involved in sequences. [can someone explain this?-hm]

Exceptional cases arising from this issue are rare, according to David. Therefore, we shouldn’t build a GE program with many courses on the list because they were exceptions. However, we should acknowledge that there’s always going to be a need for some flexibility in extraordinary cases. A student's entire transcript should be the basis for evaluation of fulfillment of a GE area, not the suitability of a certain individual course. It was agree that since Al Wyner’s input is essential to this discussion, it should be tabled until he is present.

After considerable discussion the workgroup agreed that GE courses would be allowed to have at most one prerequisite, namely another GE course. This allowance is intended primarily for hierarchical sequences.

The group moved on to discuss the inclusion of writing and quantitative content within GE courses. It was previously suggested that each department with GE offerings be required to offer some writing intensive or quantitative courses. However, there was agreement that this should not be made a requirement for all GE courses. Some (for instance introductory psychology) are appropriate without either one, and it would be difficult to implement in such a large course. To encourage the inclusion of writing or quantitative instruction in GE courses, it was suggested that the call for GE proposals state that the development and use of writing or quantitative skills are strongly recommended in GE courses.

David Kohl reported on his investigation of the number of courses offered in Areas C, D, and E that satisfy the writing requirement. Many of the courses fulfilling writing were not taught at all during the 3 quarters he examined. This was particularly true for area E2. Students take most of their 6 courses used to fulfill the writing requirement in large enrollment survey courses, which have sections. It was asked whether we want to include an enrollment limitation for sections or lectures without sections, as a requirement for approval of courses that meet the writing requirement. Sue previously presented data showing the strong inverse correlation between size of writing-intensive classes and quality of writing intensive programs. Optimal size is about 20-25 students, but 30 or 35 would still be manageable, and more realizable at this institution.

The problem of faculty workload for courses with large enrollments was discussed. We will continue to address this issue when Sue McLeod is present. The workgroup supports her strong encouragement that enrollments be kept low for writing intensive courses, but additional resources will be needed to effect significant change. It was noted that many graduate students in Education do not have TAships and might be a potential resource for assistance in large-enrollment writing courses. Sue previously suggested undergraduate tutors as a possible low-cost solution.

There still appears to be consensus that 3 times in 5 years is an appropriate lower limit for frequency of offering for GE courses. However, faculty should be informed that GE courses are expected to be taught every year.

There continues to be a lack of consensus regarding breadth versus depth. While some believe GE should be broad in scope, providing an overview of a subject area, others contend that more focused courses are equally appropriate for GE since they generally force students to think more deeply about the subject matter.

The next GE Workgroup meeting is scheduled for April 4. Items for discussion include the current and appropriate number of courses in GE Areas D, E, F, and G, and the number of special requirements.

Attest: Harold Marcuse

prepared for web by H. Marcuse on May 4, 2003
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