Task Force on General Education
Notes on Meeting of March 3, 2000


unofficial staff notes describing the deliberations of UCSB's 2000-2001 task force on General Education
NOTE: these are NOT minutes, and have never even been seen by most of those present.
The publication of these notes is intended solely to help understand the problems the task force attempted to address, and how its solutions developed.
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Guests: Todd Lee (Budget Director, Budget and Planning), Steve Velasco (Acting Director, Institutional Research and Planning), Everett Zimmerman (Provost, Letters and Science)

What does a GE Program cost?

TL stated that they do not keep records of cost of the GE Program. They can look at a range of classes that have been identified as GE and figure out the cost from there. They can look at each course and calculate the cost of the instructor (salary), supplies, labor, and the instructional program. Even when looking at certain GE classes may be useless since we do not know what students are taking them to fulfill their major. The way UCLA was able to get their funding was to increase the number of FTE for students and not the head count. Students were taking 91% of a full load. Once they had students taking the entire full load, they were able to increase the number of FTE for students without increasing the head count. They captured the incremental difference. On our campus, students are at 97% of a full load in the lower division. It would be easy to come up with something close to the UCLA calculation. But with additional students FTEís, where will the allocations go? In other words, what are the priorities of the campus?

SV stated that he would be able to provide the Task Force with course taking patterns of students. He would need their input as to what exactly should be done. DK pointed out that it would be difficult to quantify GE even in terms of a ballpark estimate of teaching effort. This is because there are a large number of options in GE and it is impossible to know which students are taking them for GE credit. The data may be misleading and any interpretations would have to be made quite cautiously. WY requested that a model be created about the size of classes based on enrollment to see what putting caps on class size would do. This number could be helpful in shaping the requirements.

EZ then spoke to the Task Force and stated that it may not be the best method to plan with the resource constraints right at the beginning, things may get ruled out that may not necessarily have to be. Implementation should be worked on secondarily. Once you know what ought to be done, set up the priorities. Then work with the administration regarding funding. As for freshman seminars, they should not be ruled out right away. First decide how valuable they are and then decide how much you want to pay for them. These, as with other GE courses, should not be turned over to TAs and visitors. We should not have a "GE Faculty." This group should meet with the WASC First-Year Experience committee since the work is connected. There has also been concern with campus climate. This is an important focus since it is not irrelevant to the intellectual atmosphere. As for the small core curriculum, it would be good to have it since it would be a shared experience by all students that improve the climate. If they are pushed into it as freshman, they would be a captive audience and they would realize what they should get out of their time here. But it would be a mistake to go entirely to a core program.

TL suggested that the new GE program should be designed before going into the financial constraints. Once there is a plan, then work on the financial aspect. Find out the least/most costly and easiest to implement since there is always reallocation possible on the financial side.

MZ raised the concern of what would happen to some departments if the GE program were changed. Will they not be able to survive? UM then brought up the issue of the campus advising system. They are largely responsible for the fact that certain courses have such low enrollments. Sensible advising should be given that is accurate. MZ pointed out that at UCLA, the structure of advising is treated as a department.

MZ asked the Task Force if they would like to invite student representatives to join for the next term or if it would be better to wait. HM stated that he believed the sooner they joined the better. It would be good to draw on knowledgeable students who are RAs and summer orientation staff. RW pointed out that the key would be to determine what organizations would best be able to contribute and to contact them as soon as possible.

Summaries:

CGJ has started to pursue specific information about the Ethnicity Requirement. He has contacted department chairs and has received some feedback. As for the Chancellorís memo about the increase in units, he has asked that the students who drafted the memo put forth a rationale for such a request. He is also currently trying to draft language to maintain something like the Ethnicity Requirement and will bring in this language.

WY has not met regarding Area C yet. But has talked to the Assistant Dean in Engineering regarding GE. Until recently, they had very strict GE requirements since their GE program was driven by accreditation. In the current year, the language has changed from hours required to the experience. They are also looking at one accreditation for Computer Science and the other branches of Engineering. (They are currently different from one another.) They still want to have GE but the program needs to complement the technical aspects the students are focusing on.

HM has talked to the various departments including History, Art History, Religious Studies, and Philosophy. They are not too worried about the impact of a new program. Other departments are reluctant to bring it up unless the change is concrete. What emerged in History was a controversial discussion of E1 and E2. The broad sentiment was that E1 was not tenable; an area where the NWC requirement and ETH requirement are integrated into GE is also a possibility. They are unsure about how exactly everything will be redefined yet. People do not seem to be vested in the division.

UM talked to most departments that have courses in Area G. All these departments, to a large extent, depend on GE enrollments. They donít know how to deal with fewer student numbers especially in the foreign language departments. All the foreign language departments would like to see an increase in the foreign language requirement making it more reasonable. Departments seem to be number obsessed and if anything is to be done, it must be proved that they will not be penalized for the lower numbers when it comes to FTEís. The proper advising and advertising of course availability does not seem to occur. Advisors think the only literature courses are in English. After all the interviews, it does not seem that the current categories make any sense. Something needs to be done with the categories and definitions. There is a concern about the number of courses in the GE list that are even open to general students. Social Science and humanities students outside of the major have difficulty getting into certain science courses and vice versa. Impacted majors do not fully participate in GE since they put their majors first. The Task Force should looks carefully at Irvineís core course system available in the reading packet.

DK stated that he would like to deal with the program conceptually at first. Within Area D, what exactly are the concepts, goals and principles? The list is very large and contains over 20 departments and there is much overlap with Area E. ETH has extreme overlap. The goal is to come up with a handful of principles regarding the Area.

TC reminded the group that they need to articulate what the goals and objectives of GE are; this is at the core of everything. Class size, timing (seniors taking frosh classes), quality of teaching, and efficiency are all key elements. Where do we dedicate resources in a studentís path? Small classes need to be held early on so students develop core skills. Many students donít have a command of grammar, syntax, or style. They come here and leave without ever learning them. Another aspect is technology. Instruction in this area is needed as well. Someone should address the potential uses of technology in the classroom and consider the implications of the Internet. There should be more education for instructors concerning resources in technology as well.

JM told the group that UCOP has established a committee related to technology and education. They would like more information on what would be useful in terms of resources for faculty. At UCLA, all faculty are given websites for their courses. There has been active antagonism by faculty towards this; many donít feel itís educational.

MZ spoke regarding Area A and the Writing Requirement. Many faculty say that the large WRT does not work. We have to say what we want in a course; this is a controversial challenge. An option would be to tie WRT to core courses to make the assignments more meaningful. The issue is blurred because the writing intensive requirement seems to be hypocritical. Often, campuses have a Writing Board that oversees what is being done. Freshman writing does not always work. It may be more useful to have less but more intensive upper division writing. UM agreed that if nothing else, the Task Force should change the Writing Requirement.


prepared for web by H. Marcuse, 10/26/03
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