Task Force on General Education
Notes on Meeting of February 4, 2000
Announcements by MZ:
In the future, MZ will attempt to distribute materials prior to the meeting.
Allan Stewart-Oaten e-mail message
GE needs to be looked at from the ground up. Why do we even have GE at all? Is there any rationale for having a General Education Program? Are the aims of GE being served by our requirements? We need to make the distinction between those that need to look around and get a better sense of what they want to do and those that don’t. This does not necessarily mean declared vs. undeclared students.
The Ethnicity Requirement is the most logical of all. If we are requiring students to take this, this will need some oversight. MZ brought up the idea of possible making the Ethnicity Requirement Systemwide. This could be the campus’s contribution. CGJ was asked to compile a list of the courses that fulfill the Ethnicity Requirement for distribution to the group.
Jon Sonstelie: Spoke regarding TA workload and the effects on GE.
Joel Michaelsen—Student/Faculty Ratios Handout
Majors are the largest competitor with GE. Something will have to give in that area if the resources are being reallocated to GE. You can see where the departments market is according to this table.
Carl Gutierrez-Jones—Ethnicity Requirement
Information will be gathered as to what departments students take courses in to fulfill this requirement. The memo that was handed out will be sent to Chairs of departments that teach courses that fulfill the Ethnicity Requirement. We will start with those that currently offer those courses even if we know that any changes will affect other programs. Has a graduate student who is doing research on this.
Walter Yuen—Area C
Everything is currently in the preliminary stages.
In regard to the College of Engineering, they have historically set their own GE program and would prefer to continue to do this. Department chairs have strong sentiments toward GE because of the tremendous workloads that Engineering students have. MZ pointed out that she would be interested in a GE program that can be applied to all students on this campus. More Engineering representation should be added to the Task Force.
Randy Bergstrom—Area D
Are currently inquiring what departments require for E1 courses and their interest in maintaining the current structure of the two course western civilization study plus one course in world civilizations. Have not asked for justification as of yet.
Ursula Mahlendorf (via MZ)—Area G
Concern brought up about courses that are being taught by non-ladder rank faculty. Another issue is the deplorable attitudes of students to learning. Something else that needs to be addressed is we need to help in identifying faculty who want to teach interdisciplinary courses.
All the reorganization does not matter if there is a lack of quality teaching. It should be assured that talented and effective faculty teach GE courses. In order to attract these faculty, a reward system needs to be implemented. Also, an office needs to be established to maintain and enforce the standards that are created. The classes are too large. We need to create smaller courses where individualized attention is offered. Resources need to be invested into students’ first and second years since this will pay off in the long run. Even Dean Marshall’s proposal has too large a class size. We need to find a way to make sure that every freshman has at least one course with 50 or fewer students.
Another concern is timing. Students need to have reading and writing skills. It is difficult to teach them this. Instructors can define these for students and test them on this. Increasing the rigor of the foreign language requirement would help in this task. Students should demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language.
The campus’s reputation of being a "party school" is still around. Standards need to be set higher and this takes work. Some students expect to pass a course without doing any work. GE should and could lead the way. The issue of drugs and alcohol is fundamental to academics and should not be ignored. The party atmosphere is demoralizing for serious students. Students should not be able to drink or get stoned four to five days a week and still expect to pass their classes.
WY pointed out that the party school sentiment is less prevalent in the sciences. Their problem is that so much is demanded of them. If they fail to pass their freshman physics and math classes, they are delayed another year.
The groups would like to see the Engineering GE program. Also looking at MIT and CalTech’s programs would offer valuable insight.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 p.m.
The next meeting will be on March 3, 2000, 12:00 to 2:00 p.m.