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Curriculum Committee Minutes 11/17/10

Minutes of the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee

November 17, 2010

 

 

Committee members present:  Nancy Breen, Anthony Hollingsworth (chair), Hasan Khan, Chris Menton, Jason Patch, Anthony Ruocco, Mark Sawoski, John Schlinke, Louis Swiczewicz, Minoo Tehrani, Dan Vilenski (ex officio)

 

The meeting was called to order at 3:03 p.m.

 

Old Business:

 

Motion:

To approve the use of the revised electronic curriculum routing form for FCAS curriculum proposals in place of the standard FSCC routing forms.

Motion was approved unanimously.

 

General Education Proposal

 

Information:

The Faculty Senate President has indicated to an FSCC committee member that amendments to FSCC policies can be voted on to allow for a specific committee or individual to bring curricular proposals to the FSCC if this is deemed necessary to address concerns from FSCC committee members regarding how the General Education proposal has arrived at the committee.

 

A committee member iterated that s/he is not comfortable considering a General Education proposal that is not clearly endorsed by the faculty, the Faculty Senate, or another entity representative of the full faculty.

 

The committee chair presented a list of recommendations for proposed changes to the General Education proposal based upon the feedback the chair received from faculty members and from emails received. These recommendations addressed the six areas of concern enumerated in the motion passed at the prior FSCC meeting of Wednesday, November 10, 2010.  The text of that motion was:

 

Motion:

To approve the Petition for a New Undergraduate General Education Program pending changes from the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee in the following six areas:

1. Reduction in total credits from 48-51 to 40-41 credits

2. Examination of double-dipping (specific recommendations forthcoming)

3. Elimination of scaffolding/levels

4. Examination of the number of houses (specific recommendations forthcoming)

5. Clarification/examination of prerequisites (specific recommendations forthcoming)

6. Recommendation of additional requirements (specific recommendations forthcoming)

 

The committee chair also solicited recommendations from other members of the committee in this regard.  The chair’s recommendations for discussion were the following:

 

Recommendations:

 

1. Eliminate the two-tiered structure for the seven houses.

Rationale: The complexity of the tiers based on outcomes and content combined (content for the pre-requisite side for advanced course content) is cumbersome and opens the door for the double-dipping.

 

2. Students will be required to complete 1 course in each of the following houses, syst. think.; hum. conn.; global; social; creativity

Rationale: Eliminates double dipping because the program’s credit requirements are lowered.

 

3. Expand the inquiry house to comprise three unique areas: science inquiry, math inquiry, humanities inquiry. Students will be required to take one course from each category

Rationale: Ensures that students are in science and math and need to take a liberal arts course, not, as Tom Sorger elegantly observed, a course with liberal arts.

 

4. Expand the communications house to comprise three unique areas: 1 area with courses comparable to expository writing; 1 area with courses comparable to critical writing; 1 area with courses comparable to speech

Rationale: Both the Writing and English departments support requiring at least two writing courses. Multiple areas strongly support a speech course. We may want to discuss how the speech course would fit with schools that currently do not require it.

 

5. Require a human language proficiency equivalent to the B1 level (similar to our 201 courses). (Colleagues in engineering and science, should we add computer language here?)

Rationale: Currently, 52.6% of students entering RWU meet or exceed this requirement, 33.7% would need one additional course (or equivalent study), and 13.5% would need two additional courses (or equivalent study). Because languages will be contained in at least one, if not two, of the houses, there is a zero credit addition to the program, while giving credibility to our branding to bridge the world. It will also encourage students into study abroad programs and reinforce global competencies

 

6. Eliminate double-dipping

Rationale: With these recommendations implemented, the full gen ed program is 39-41 credits (41 credits for the math lab and science lab, if both are taken). This number does not warrant double dipping from program to gen ed, but as number 7 (below) references:

 

7. Strongly urge departments adopt minors that allow students to use specific gen ed courses as part of their respective minors.

Rationale: Here the “double-dipping” is moving from gen ed to program. We do this now with Core Concentrations. Faculty and administration understand the concept flow in this direction and where the former core concentrations enabled students to Major and minor (and possible double major), this flow of double dipping would allow a comparable procedure, especially for the smaller programs.

 

8. Change the name of the Communications house to the Discourse house.  Communications as a title is too closely aligned with a specific department.

 

A committee member recommended considering specific portions of the overall General Education proposal, starting with the First Year Seminar.

 

Motion:

To approve the First Year Seminar portion of the Petition for a New Undergraduate General Education Program to begin in the fall 2012 semester.

 

Discussion occurred on stipulating that existing foundational courses in the disciplines specifically be allowed/encouraged to become First Year Seminar courses.  A suggested amendment to the motion incorporating this language was not accepted.

 

8 – aye, 1 – nay, 1 – abstain

Motion passes

 

Motion:

To approve the Capstone Seminar portion of the Petition for a New Undergraduate General Education Program.

A committee member suggested that the middle portion of the General Education proposal needed to be considered prior to considering the Capstone Seminar because of its potential effects on the Capstone.

 

Motion:

To table the prior motion until the middle portion of General Education proposal has been considered.

7 – aye, 1 – nay, 2 – abstain

Motion to table the prior motion passes.

 

The committee discussed in no particular order the recommendations for changes (see above) proposed by the committee chair.

 

 

Recommendation 2

A committee member suggested that we change the term “houses” to the term “domains” or “areas”

 

 

Recommendation 3

A committee member questioned the expansion of the Inquiry House into three areas (science, math, and humanities).  Would there not be a duplication between a humanities-based inquiry course and a course offered in the Human Connections house?  Why would humanities be designated as an area for inquiry and not also include the social sciences?  The committee member argued for reducing the total number of courses comprising the General Education curriculum.

 

A committee member suggested that the FSCC define “humanities house” at the next meeting.

 

A committee favored the concept of a math inquiry course. Certain courses, approved for the General Education curriculum, might serve to bring students to a certain level of math where specific majors begin.

 

Recommendation 5

A committee member questioned the need for including a language proficiency in the General Education curriculum.  The member’s concerns included: a) language courses may not include learning about society and culture which the member believes are of greater importance than basic mastery of a language, b) including a proficiency standard will cause students to have to take language courses to meet the standard, thus using up credit hours that might be better used in other areas.

 

A committee member stated that if the intention of the language proficiency is to assure that students have mastered a language, the standard should be higher.

 

A committee member spoke on behalf of the recommendation, stating: a) language courses do include opportunities to learn about society and culture, b) it is a proficiency requirement and not a course requirement, students may pursue a number of paths to proficiency (study abroad, outside coursework, etc.), c) because it is not a course requirement, the proficiency requirement does not privilege the courses of a specific department, d) the relatively small percentage of students needing to do additional work to meet the proficiency requirement was reiterated (see percentages listed above), and e) a language proficiency supports the university’s theme of “Learning to bridge the world.”

 

Recommendation 6

A committee member observed that double-dipping as currently suggested by the proposal is different from departments using General Education approved courses as part of their own minors.

 

Motion:

To approve the following as one of the stipulations for FSCC approval of the Petition for a New Undergraduate General Education Program:

Students will be required to complete one course in each of the following five houses: systems thinking, human connections, global perspectives, social responsibility, and creativity.

 

8 – aye, 1 – nay, 1 – abstain

Motion passes

 

The chair recommended that the committee continue at its next meeting with a consideration of additional recommendations for the General Education proposal.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 4:32 p.m.

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