ASCRC Minutes 9/25/07


Members Present: J. Burfeind, J. Cox, I. Crummy, L. Economides, S. Gauthier, J. Graham E. Henderson, S. Lodmell,  J. Luckowski, P. Muench, H. Thompson, P. Silverman, L. Tangedahl, G. Weix

Members Absent/Excused: K. Nalty, M. Nielsen, T. Hunter


Ex-Officio Present: M. Hoell, D. Micus, A. Walker-Andrews

Guest: Provost Engstrom, J. Tompkins

Chair Thompson called the meeting to order at 2:10 p.m.

The minutes from 9/18/07 were approved.  



Chair Thompson informed Provost Engstrom that ASCRC charged the Writing Committee with incorporating Information Literacy into the Writing Skills component of the general education framework in accordance with the recommendation from the Mansfield Library.  The Writing Committee has started the process.  Some language referencing information literacy was already in its working draft of writing course guidelines. 

Provost Engstrom stated that general education needs to play a much more deliberate role in higher education in today's world.  It is satisfied from a discipline perspective but is not meeting the needs of the students.  He outlined his concerns with the proposed model.

  1. He anticipates that information literacy can be incorporated into existing requirements.
  2. Students need to complete core requirements in composition and math early.  The  WPA should be taken earlier than 70 credits so students can assess what courses could be taken to improve their skills.  It is important to keep quantitative avenues open to students through early math courses.
  3. Students should receive interdisciplinary exposure to issues that the world will be dealing with for decades early in their careers.
  4. The connection between general education and the students major should be deliberate    

Early completion of core foundations
In response to the question, how can students be forced to take math early, Provost Engstrom suggested more diligent advising.  Registrar Micus indicated that the Banner pre-requisite system will be updated so that it can be used.  Then the math literacy course could be a pre-requisite for courses required by the major in the junior year.   He does not recommend a registration hold. Some institutions have a common first year.  Another approach would be incentives such as early registration in courses.   

The math placement exam as a diagnostic is critical to prevent students from wasting time and should be required.  Students don't understand the full complexity of the issue.  Students loose opportunities post graduation by not having a quantitative foundation.   Associate Provost Walker-Andrews suggested the development of just-in-time courses.  These would be available for students to drop into if they found that the math course they enrolled in was too demanding.  It would start a few weeks later in the semester and run longer.

Problems that limit students' ability to continue in their program need to be resolved.  Issues related to sophomore registration difficulties and adequate course sections should be addressed. Currently there is a problem with juniors and seniors taking the math literacy course for the second time.  The design of the general education program needs to be optimized so that students get the most out of it.  Mechanisms should be put in place that work for the majority with appeals and other processes available for exceptions.

There is a workgroup working on the math literacy issue that was put together by the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Office in response to the Mathematics Department desire to make students take the mathematical literacy course sooner. 

ASCRC established an ad hoc subcommittee to develop and articulate incentives and disincentives to taking core courses early.  Associate Dean Tompkins will be the liaison with the other workgroup.   Other members include Registrar Micus and student members Erika Henderson and Jed Cox.  A faculty member from the math department will also be appointed.  Professor Graham recommended Professor Lauren Fern.

The students suggested that the committee pay attention to departments' suggested sequencing of courses.  Typically a student's first schedule is made by student advocates and approved by faculty.   The orientation director provides training for the advocates.  He/she should be apprised of the need for students to take foundations early.

Interdisciplinary exposure

Interdisciplinary exposure would require new courses.  Exposure could also be in the context of lecture series or something other than standard courses.  One idea is to expand the freshmen interest groups and use a step approach to implementing the interdisciplinary courses.  Another approach to the lecture series is to have a follow-up session for interaction, with attendance mandatory.  The English department has been talking about developing a lecture series with topics such as the Future of Nature and the Age of Globalism, but didn't know how to get the funding. 

The disincentives and impediments to developing and offering interdisciplinary courses should be resolved, including resources.  Interdisciplinary courses can create new synergy and can be rewarding for faculty.  How the credits are counted should not overshadow the benefits to campus.    ASCRC should outline its ideas and the obstacles and ask Academic Affairs for guidance.

Professor Weix referenced a 2003 Academic Affairs report on Interdisciplinary issues that Associate Provost Walker Andrews will try to find.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:00 p.m.