Task Force on General Education
Notes on Meeting of April 20, 2000
Jennifer Gertwagen, a student representative, spoke to the Task Force. In the majority of the GE classes she has taken, there was nothing very general about them. They were interesting but there was no fundamental unit of knowledge. The goals of GE arenít clear and arenít getting through to the students. Professors have to teach the course as a general education course but they are also teaching it as a major course at the same time. There need to be certain standards for instructors.
Crystal Smith, another student representative, also expressed her opinions. Many students walk away with a degree but very few know what UCSB is. Learning about the campus and what research has been done on this campus should be integrated into the curriculum. It would be beneficial to have more hands-on interaction with professors; freshman seminars would be a good option to help get freshman excited.
MZ announced that EVC Nagel has formed a committee to look at retention. 12% of freshman and 12% of sophomores do not return the following year. People are not bonding to the institution. ASO pointed out that half of the 12% are academically dismissed and others leave because there is no money. Even so, there needs to be a new kind of advising that focuses on the culture of the departments and of the campus.
Reports from Members
CGJ: Has been consulting with departments and faculty as well as students who were at the sit in when Chancellor Yang signed the agreement to add an additional four units to the Ethnicity Requirement. In a poll of departments regarding their thoughts on the requirement, it was found that many were wary about putting ethnicity and diversity into one requirement. There is, however, an interest in gender studies. An analysis of the data from AAU schools about this requirement has been compiled. At Santa Cruz, they are making an effort to speak to diversity not looking at the requirements but at how resources can move things along. They have opted not to have the ethnic studies programs carry the load and that the responsibility is shared. The requirement should move away from a focus on the United States and encompass transitional work.
SF spoke regarding summaries of reports by Steve Velasco. The report takes all departments and the percentage of their courses that are GE. 1/3 of all courses on campus fulfill a GE; seven departments in the fine arts and humanities have at least 50% of all their courses count towards GE. In another report, the enrollments of every GE course are presented and separated into the percentage who are majors and who are non-majors. In the sciences, more courses need to be specifically designed for non-majors. In terms of percentages of ladder faculty teaching GE courses, an average of 37% of ladder faculty teach GE courses.
CS voiced the concern that students often receive double credit for taking required major courses that also fulfill GE requirements. UM pointed out that there is currently no regulation that states students have to take courses outside of their major. On average, out of the fourteen GE courses required, students can take three in their major. RWatts then asked if major courses were eliminated as GE, would there be a loss? ASO thought that this would be difficult for biology majors because of their schedules; there is a real danger of them going over 200 units if the requirements are not cut back. AK raised the issue of what happens to the major when, as a senior, a student is faced with taking an upper division elective course in his or her major versus completing a GE. The only solution for the student is to attempt to have the requirement waived. This needs to be addressed, especially for highly structured majors. The number of GE units may not need to be reduced by the structure needs to be gotten rid of or else students end up getting stuck. WY expressed the same concern for students in engineering; if students do not pass one course their freshman year, they fall behind. This is one reason so many take GE courses in their senior year. One goal of GE should be simplification with fewer units and more flexibility. RWood stated that there should be greater flexibility for students in pursuing GE courses. An administrative structure with advisors is essential. MZ agreed that the idea would be to move to a small, flexible, and monitored program.
After the next meeting, MZ would like to make specific amendments to the present GE program and introduce the prospect of freshman seminars. The group does not know enough to build the first design. These two would be follow separate tracks and would be presented separately. The report from the Task Force should include a summary of the present status of GE. RWatts suggested presenting the report alongside the GE Committee and in the interim, speak to the Task Force on Diversity that reports to him and the EVC.