Academic Senate
Santa Barbara Division

General Education Workgroup
Minutes of the Meeting of March 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)
A. Wyner (Dean, Undergraduate Studies, L&S),
X. Zhao (Undergraduate Council)

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

Topics discussed (jump down to): credit AP courses, GE courses with prerequisites, petition process, writing intensive courses,

Taping the meetings
GE Workgroup Co-Chair Harold Marcuse suggested that meetings be taped for use in preparing minutes. It was agreed that a tape would be used, but the content erased once the minutes are transcribed.


Mr. Marcuse has emailed the workgroup his notes on what took place at Monday’s (Mar. 3) meeting with the dean and chairs of the Humanities and Fine Arts Division. Another meeting with that division will be scheduled after the beginning of next quarter.

The workgroup began discussing a new core area at the end of the last meeting. This possibility has continued to be discussed among various individuals, with an array of potential names emerging. We will continue to pursue this idea at future meetings.

A new email alias has been set up for email discussions, distributing minutes, etc.: All workgroup members and /consultants are on the list serve. Additional names can be added if desired. Inclusion of Richard Hecht was suggested, but it was concluded that he does not want to participate in GE Workgroup activities. The L&S Executive Committee is apparently satisfied that Dan Montello’s participation is providing adequate representation.

Review of where we stand thus far

Previously agreed upon AP decision

Responses to the decision to disallow the use of AP credit to fulfill GE requirements indicate that the workgroup should reconsider this topic. The Math Department has communicated that students who take AP math courses are often better prepared than those who take UCSB’s equivalent courses. The College of Letters and Science is concerned about the serious enrollment impact that would result from discontinuing the granting of GE credit for AP coursework. The average number of AP units brought in by this year’s freshmen is 16 (4 courses). Perhaps half of them are substitutable for GE. If not allowed to use these units toward GE requirements, the average entering freshman would have to take 2-3 more GE courses than required currently. The impact of this demand would not be evenly spread out over all departments. We need to find out how many students get GE credit for each of the AP tests and how many GE courses are fulfilled by this credit.

According to current policy, if an AP course has been taken, the student cannot also take the equivalent of that course at UCSB. Therefore, it was suggested that if an AP course substitutes for a specific GE course, such that a student couldn’t enroll in that course, we should give GE credit.

It was clarified that whether or not credit is given for AP or other college prep coursework is a systemwide decision. Which requirements can be fulfilled by this credit is decided by the Senate at the campus level. Therefore, the Senate is responsible for making decisions regarding which AP courses are eligible for GE credit. The GE Committee previously had authority over this, and it is now within CUAPP’s purview to make these decisions. Mr. Marcuse was quite certain that this topic had never come up in the course of his experience with the GE committee. CUAPP can apparently also decide on the number of AP test points needed in order to receive credit for GE. The AP credit table in the General Catalogue (2002-03, p. 114) indicates unit differentials, which are a result of past Senate decisions.

There was a question as to why we are considering changing the current policy, which allows the use of AP credit for GE. One of the reasons given is that some AP courses, based on departmental assessment and preference, do not count toward the major. There is also a concern that high school courses are often not equivalent to the UCSB GE courses that they replace.

There are several AP courses that do count for GE that do not have specific equivalents.

It was suggested that a score of 4 might be a more appropriate requirement for earning GE credit. It was agreed that the Undergraduate Council shouldn’t and probably couldn’t make this decision without consulting the departments that offer the equivalent courses. This topic was discussed in the GE Task Force Report. A systemwide Senate committee is currently considering the scoring of AP tests.

UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC Irvine do not allow the use of AP credit for GE. San Diego and Davis are currently considering going in this direction as well. There will be further discussion of this topic, but it seemed likely that the workgroup’s earlier decision to completely disallow AP credit for GE will be modified.


The workgroup had agreed at its February 7 meeting that courses that have prerequisites should not be approved for GE, with the exception of those that are part of a GE sequence (or have other GE courses as prerequisites. Courses that require upper division standing as a prerequisite were also determined to be acceptable for GE. However, on revisiting this topic, there was some doubt about the level of support for these decisions both within and outside of the workgroup. There is concern that excluding courses with prerequisites from the GE Program will shift the vast bulk of GE courses to lower division and away from upper division. While this seems appropriate to some, it involves philosophical differences that have not yet been resolved within the workgroup. It also brings us back to the issue of breadth versus depth. Many of the individuals consulted by the workgroup are in favor of in-depth study within the GE Program, while others favor a more literal interpretation of "general" education.

An example was offered of a student with an outstanding background in a given subject area, who has no desire to major in that area. It was asked why this student shouldn’t be able to get GE credit for taking a course more suited to his/her academic level? One member responded that this scenario is uncommon enough that the GE Program shouldn’t necessarily try to cater to it. It was also argued that this is not what GE is designed to do.

The discussion returned to the workgroup’s previous consideration of keeping upper division courses (possibly with prerequisites) on the list for the sake of transfer students. About 30-33% of these students come with GE courses left to be taken, and they also needing to satisfy the upper division units requirement. It was suggested that courses with only one prerequisite be allowed for GE, which would accommodate the inclusion of many upper division courses.

It was argued that the real implication for disallowing prerequisites is that it gives CUAPP a criterion by which it can turn down courses that aren’t appropriate for GE. This led to discussion of upper division standing as a prerequisite, which subsequently led to discussion of the appropriate timeframe for completion of GE requirements. It was suggested that something should be done to encourage students to take GE courses as early on as possible.

It was asked whether it's possible for students to get into a course requiring upper division standing during their sophomore year. This can generally be done by way of permission from the instructor. This was not considered to be equitable, since some students take the proviso seriously and don’t try to get past it, often never knowing that it can be done. Discussion followed regarding the purpose of requiring upper division standing. One reason offered is that faculty decide they want to teach their courses to more mature students or those with more background in the material. The other is that when it was previously determined that every upper-division course had to have a prerequisite, upper division standing was the prerequisite chosen for a large number of courses.

Sentiment was expressed that requiring upper division standing goes against the spirit of GE, and it was suggested that courses requiring upper division standing be removed from the list. It was stated that CUAPP doesn’t currently concern itself with the prerequisite issue in reviewing GE proposals. [note: in April we finally decided that UD standing was an allowable and appropriate prerequisite for GE courses]

It was once again reiterated that the reason a lot of the courses are on the current GE list is because an individual wanted GE credit for a course that was not yet on the list. When courses are proposed on this basis, it’s now difficult to turn them down because there are so many other courses that look just like them on the list, and once a course gets on, it stays on. It was suggested that a petition process seems a better way to handle this type of request. It was explained that, since GE has to be applied equitably, this too would be a very difficult approach, on top of creating an enormous workload problem. This approach boils down to dealing with a person’s situation rather than the suitability of a course. The criterium then becomes whether the individual student has met the intent of GE in that area.

It was pointed out by one of the student members that the majority of incoming freshman tend to take the GE booklet at face value, and it would be much easier for them to be presented with a list of courses for which widespread enrollment is actually feasible. They would also like to know the loopholes, if they exist.

It was argued that the petition process allows a student to be irresponsible with regard to meeting requirements in a timely manner. One member stated that if a rule is waived for a select few, in order to be equitable, it should be printed in the catalogue so that all students can receive the same exception. While the University does grant exceptions with regard to many policies, the fact that GE is applicable to 16,000 students makes it harder to operate with unwritten rules.

It was agreed that, while all the above discussion is useful to our process, the workgroup had still not succeeded in establishing criteria that would solve the problems that lead to proliferation of the GE list. Lack of a set of criteria seems to be what keeps holding us back. So far, almost all courses would still qualify, indicating that we still have a lot more work to do. It was noted that ongoing assessment of whatever criteria are finally approved by the Faculty Legislature will still be essential.

The workgroup was reminded that once a GE program is approved by the Faculty Legislature, a one-year period will be needed to create a new GE booklet of approved courses before the new program can be put into effect. It was suggested that if we end up redefining subject areas, it will be easiest to start with a blank slate and require submission of new proposals for any courses to appear on it. If we simply create restrictive criteria, it might be possible for an ad hoc committee or CUAPP to pare down the current list without starting over.

In the interest of saving time for the planned discussion about writing, the workgroup quickly worked its way through the rest of the summary list with regard to the subject areas (see agenda).

There was discussion of how a new core area would be implemented. The possibility of consolidating areas F and G was considered. Caution was expressed that this would provide an avenue for students to avoid studying literature by completely fulfilling the requirement with art. There was also concern that the HFA chairs would not be satisfied with this possibility, since F and G represent two different knowledge domains, and merging them might also involve a major shifts in enrollments.


Writing Program Director Susan McLeod distributed an excerpt from an article entitled "Defining Writing Intensive Course Requirements," which offers guidelines that have been used successfully by other institutions (see attachment). One of the key criteria is class size, which is best kept at no more than 25 students. Large enrollment courses with relatively small sections taught by TAs also work. The highest degree of success is achieved when writing intensive courses are taught by faculty or at least with a faculty member as the instructor of record.

The biggest problem at UCSB is that large enrollments that will only get larger. The vast majority of upper division courses that include writing do not have TAs. Sometimes readers are hired, but often faculty must do all the reading.

Various models were described for dealing with workload issues, particularly the use of undergraduate writing fellows or peer tutors who receive course credit in exchange for their service. They respond to student drafts, such that by the time the instructor sees the assignment, it’s already gone through a few iterations. These fellows or tutors would need to be trained, but this is something Ms. McLeod said she could do. We now have a course called Tutoring in Writing through which this could be done. Ms. McLeod said she could also supervise the tutors, but this would clearly affect her current workload.

Given that about 95% of our writing intensive courses that do not have sections also have high enrollments, a lot of writing fellows would be required to achieve the desired result. This would need to be phased in gradually, as the training would need to be done in relatively small groups. We would need to know the number of students who are enrolled in writing intensive courses that don’t have sections. A ballpark figure of 5,000 was offered, but David Kohl agreed to work on figuring out the number for this quarter.

We supposedly have a good requirement on paper, but implementation is the problem. It boils down to whether we’re really willing to allocate resources to doing something about it. If students were given credit for providing writing assistance, it would be much less expensive, but there are unsatisfactory issues related to giving credit to students for tutoring.

It was requested that the issue of monitoring be discussed. There is a history of courses being watered down due to climbing enrollments or writing being eliminated altogether, while the course is still on record as a writing intensive course. A number of models for reviewing courses were offered, including rolling 3-year reviews or having a committee that reviews writing courses each time they are taught by reviewing syllabi and requiring submission of information about the course. It was also suggested that instructor evaluations from students could be used as an assessment tool. Consultation with faculty who are proposing courses to help them figure out how to teach writing effectively was also mentioned as a possibility.

There are two basic ways to monitor. One is to review courses prior to their being taught; the other is to post audit and follow up on any red flags that appear. It was also suggested that faculty could be surveyed to ascertain whether they are actually teaching the course in a way that meets the expectations for a writing intensive course.

Since oversight of the GE Program is the responsibility of the Undergraduate Council, it is within the Council’s purview to inform the Administration of the need for additional resources to maintain the quality of the writing component of the program. Given the current budgetary climate, it will be necessary to think about resources creatively. Large budget cuts in the Office of Student Affairs are expected to prevent CLAS from remaining a viable resource.

It was suggested that the workgroup consult with faculty who teach writing intensive courses. However, it was determined that it might be best to do this within the Undergraduate Council or CUAPP.

The workgroup will meet with the dean and chairs of the Social Sciences Division on March 10 at noon. Agenda items for the March 14 meeting include the discussion of ethnicity/Western Civilization/interdisciplinary studies, the question of a new core area versus a special requirement, and planning of the second HFA meeting.

Attest: Harold Marcuse

minutes by Debra Blake, read through by H. Marcuse
prepared for web by H. Marcuse on May 4, 2003
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