GEC  Meeting

Monday, October 17, 2005


Room 325Graff Main Hall


Present: Emily Johnson (Chair), Sandy Grunwald, Eric Kraemer, Steve McDougal, Cris Prucha, Robert Ragan, Bruce Riley, Soojin Ritterling, Brian Udermann

Absent:   Jon Fields, Devyne Strand

Consultants Present:  Keith Beyer, Bruce May, Betsy Morgan, Diane Schumacher, Melissa Schultz

Guests: Lisa Heise


I.  Approval of October 3, 2005 Minutes

                M/S/P Approval of 10/3/05 minutes


II.  Announcements

A.       Assistant to GE Director – Lisa Heise-- Lisa is assisting Emily with various projects related the General Education, some specifically related to UWL100.  In the future Lisa may be a point of contact for information on some specific GE related items if Emily is away.

B.       Status of Writing Coordinator-- A letter has been sent to the Chancellor asking for the means to appoint a Writing Coordinator.  No response yet.

C.      AGLS/AIS conference - brief report--Systems Analysis of General Education is being conducted by the Association of General and Liberal Studies (AGLS) using The Higher Learning Commission's "Academic Quality Improvement Project" (AQIP) topics.  They wish to assess General Education systems using four standards:  Context, Processes, Results, and Improvement.  Emily distributed a handout with specific questions under each heading, asking GEC members to read and indicate whether they would be able to answer the questions posed.  GEC members are to give feedback on wording and clarity of questions.  If an item makes sense, no feedback is necessary.  If it doesn't make sense, please indicate how and why.  GEC members asked to return forms by 10/31/05 meeting.

D.      Upcoming Conferences:

1         AAC&U Liberal Education conference (January 25-28) 

GEC members encouraged to peruse the provided website regarding the upcoming conference.  Several very relevant sessions are being offered and Emily would like to send a small team.

      2.  AAC&U Gen Ed conference (March 9-11)


 A team from the GEC has attended this conference for the last four years, and Emily would like to see a small group attend again this year.  This has been a beneficial conference.


Emily is looking into having UW-L become a member of AAC&U.  Membership would save up to $100 or more per registration. Interested committee members should indicate their interest to Emily as soon as possible.


E.       Wine and Dine: 10/27/05, Cleary Alumni Center--Design Team Report – Next steps. Based on the discussion and straw poll at the last GEC meeting and the straw poll results that have been forwarded to Emily, no items were identified as having significant opposition, although many questions were raised regarding various aspects of the report.  Therefore, in an effort to inform the campus and receive feedback on the recommendations, Emily, in consultation with the Chair of Faculty Senate, has set up a Kick Off event for Thursday, October 27. The event will occur immediately after the Faculty Senate meeting. Subsequent to the Kick Off Event will be two additional listening sessions to solicit feedback and answer questions.  These will take place 11/14 and 11/28.  GEC members were asked to enthusiastically promote the Wine and Dine and listening sessions in their respective departments. 


A link to the full report is on the General Education Web Page.  Eventually specific recommendations based on this report will be up for a majority vote in the GEC and then be forwarded to Faculty Senate.  Members should clarify to colleagues that the recommendations listed in the report are not coming from GEC, they are being considered by GEC. 

A question was raised regarding the straw poll results about UWL 110.   Emily responded that the straw poll responses from the last meeting and from those submitted during the past two weeks did not indicate opposition.  However, not everyone responded to the poll, and not everyone responded to each item.  Results from those that did respond in writing indicated two in favor, one against, and one not sure.   GEC members are welcome to present ideas and solicit feedback from their departments prior to the Kick-Off Event.

F.       English Department’s invitation--Dick Sullivan has expressed interest in working collaboratively with the GEC, especially in regard to ENG 110. The English Department has begun an intensive study of the freshman writing program.  They are examining issues relating to the 110/300 requirements, and they hope to develop a relationship with GEC to look at the writing component of the Core Curriculum.  Representatives will be invited to the 10/31/05 GEC meeting to discuss further collaboration. 

G.      Student appeal.  A transfer student recently asked UCC, on appeal, to allow a history course taken at UW-Oshkosh to count as our Gen Ed history requirement because the department chair denied the request.  UCC had never encountered an appeal such as this where the department chair refused to allow the substitution, and the committee ultimately took no action.  The student was told to go back to the department chair one more time to request approval of the course. If the request is again denied, the student may appeal to UCC again. UWL policies require that all course appeals go to UCC.  


The department chair denied acceptance of this course on the grounds that it was not equivalent to the GE history courses they offer.  Emily wrote a letter of support for the course substitution given that it seemed to satisfy our broad GE goals and the general description of the specific GE category.  She also noted that UW System has been working hard to increase the transferability of courses between institutions, especially general education courses.   She expressed concern that students may be adversely affected by our current procedures and that consideration of a request for a general education course substitution may require a different process than for courses required in a major. The question was raised as to why GEC doesn't have jurisdiction to make decisions about General Education courses.  The majority of members agreed that the processes and procedures for approving general education course substitutions should be a future GEC agenda item.


III.   Reports 

A.       Assessment.  The assessment report discussed at the last few meetings focused solely on new student outcomes.  Sandy Grunwald is now working on an addition to the report that focuses on the assessment results vis-à-vis the GE goals and objectives that have been on the books since the GE program was approved in 1990.  She will add to the report, identifying overlaps among old goals, new outcomes, and assessment results.


IV.  Old Business  

A.       LX form revisions .  Emily and Eric will finalize minor changes to the form following today’s meeting.  Emily indicated that she would like to work with departments and/or individual faculty prior to their submitting proposals to make sure they understand what is required.  She recently received 20 copies of LX140 forms that were not completed properly.  The format was correct, but they did not use GE learning outcomes.  She requested that the department re-submit the proposals, using the approved outcomes.  She has been working with the Finance Department and a Philosophy faculty member on the development of their course proposals and completion of the LX forms. 


B.       Mission statement .   Bob Ragan indicated that he had researched other 4 year public institutions of higher education, and, that compared to most other mission statements, ours is "lyrical."  Therefore, he and Eric decided not to propose additional changes.  The wording of the second paragraph was discussed and suggestions made that indicated a vision statement in addition to the mission statement, as proposed in past meetings.  After some discussion the following statement was  M/S/P (unanimous):

        "It is the University's vision that the core curriculum encourages students to

§         discover connections between disciplines

§         consider one's major in a broader context

§         cultivate knowledge, skills, and habits of mind essential for independent learning and thinking." 

        This vision statement will be in addition to the mission statement approved unanimously in 10/03/05 GEC meeting.                                                       



C.      Design Team Report

1.  Results of Straw Poll.  Emily distributed the list of questions (see attached) that members generated related to the specific curriculum recommendations found in the Design Team report.  She again repeated that no items received a majority  vote “against;” most items tended to have either a favorable vote or members requested more information prior to leaning for or against.

2.  Listening session I Topic – First year experience.  The discussion today will focus on the first year experience. The other aspects related to a revised structure will be discussed at the October 31 GEC meeting.


Questions and discussion items related to the First Year Foundations focused on the following topics:

§         How will 12 credits of freshmen foundation requirements impact different majors? Is it feasible for all majors? What kind of flexibility can be built in? Will students in some majors be expected to take J-term or summer term courses or will it require more than 4 years to completion of degree?

§         Do departments have the resources to accommodate all first year students in the foundation courses listed in the report?

§         What were the rationales for including a health and well-being course (e.g., HPR 105) and not a history course included as a freshmen foundation course?  Both enroll mostly freshmen. HPR does include many health related concerns that freshmen face and that can contribute to academic success.  Residence Life also does significant programming on student success and healthy lifestyles.  Perhaps there would be a way to collaborate/link HPR with living/learning communities.

§         Is it possible to agree on what foundational knowledge is?  Emily indicated that the only area of agreement on a “first year survey” sent out in 2003-2004 focused on the importance of communication courses.  However, she noted that only a handful of individuals provided feedback. 

§         More students are coming into college with AP credit (400 students came in with an average of 9 AP credits this Fall); how will this trend impact resource needs or the first year foundations requirements?

§         Allowing time for students to explore options for majors and careers was seen as good thing by some; would be good if the structure of Gen Ed or the freshmen foundation allows that to occur

§         If credits are cut in GE will this just encourage majors to add more credits to their requirements? The "Degree-creep" factor was noted--what a diploma used to be, a bachelor's degree now is.  What a bachelor's was, a Master's now is, etc. How do we balance the need for technical or specific knowledge and skills (i.e., the major) with the need to provide a liberal education?

§         Communication with the business world or world outside of the academy suggests that while specialized knowledge is important, knowledge and skills inherent in a liberal education is AS important, e.g., the abilities to write, communicate, and think critically.  Would these foundational classes build upon that more effectively?


Require students to take most 100-level General Education courses within their first two years . Is it really only 100-level courses or should it say “introductory” courses. Some important introductory courses that should be taken early for certain majors begin at the 200-level.


UW-L 110.  Defined as an inter-disciplinary, writing intensive, rigorous course that in collaboration with other foundational courses could provide students with the basic tools to succeed in subsequent classes.  With the writing intensive component it would be nice to link to or collaborate with ENG 110.  Design Committee suggestion is that every new student take UWL110 in their first semester.

Discussion topics included:

§         Currently, first year students have extremely varied experiences and courses.  Subsequent instructors don't know what they can expect in terms of abilities.  Providing one common required experience would benefit all faculty who could later build on those foundations, and have an expectation of what knowledge they possess as they move on.

§         Learning Communities v. UWL 110. Without implementing UWL 110, would it be possible to create linked courses that all students would take to gain exploration & a community learning experience without creating an additional course.  This could eliminate the need to find resources (approx. 45 instructors) to teach UWL110.  Would it achieve the same goals?  Do we have enough faculty interested in teaching freshmen experience courses such as UWL 110?

§         If we moved toward linked courses, need to set them up as learning communities such that students sign up for a learning community that automatically included two or three courses. The current challenge with linked courses is that if one is not working for a student, they have to drop both and it sets them back further.  Students are often not aware that courses are linked—the timetable doesn’t make that clear.

§         Perhaps students can choose to take UWL110 or a linked set of courses, then outcomes could be measured and both could be compared in ultimately deciding what best achieves the outcomes.  If outcomes are comparable, continue to provide both options.

§         Could they have the option to take UWL110 either first or second semester?  Response was that the first semester specifically is critical to forming skills and becoming acclimated to university life.  If it exists, should be exclusively in first semester.  A three credit course is recommended since it is very difficulty to have significant content in a one credit seminar like UWL 100.

§         Design Team discussed their report at the GEC retreat as a work in progress.  We can launch some of the recommendations, monitor and assess success, then change as we need to.  The program can evolve into some long range vision of a university core that includes a common experience and more of a focus on integration of knowledge.  This could occur in different ways.  Point is to get something started if we agree that some type of common experience in the first year is good for students.

§         Guarantee of consistency if we have 45 or more sections? Would need someone to coordinate. UWL 100 requires core components that everyone does and then instructors have room for their own activities/topics. 

§         Do current courses already meet the goals of UWL110.  Would we be duplicating knowledge more than integrating?  UWL110 sounded like a combination of knowledge already provided in ENG, CST, and HPR introductory courses.  Would there be too much overlap of content? Coordination of content and expected outcomes would be necessary—and should be happening now with current courses, but does not.

§         Political and practical realities:  are there enough resources? Will departments be concerned that a course is not “foundational?”  How do we balance the “best for students” with the political and resource questions, such as SCH?

§         Purpose of listening sessions is so all concerns may be voiced and questions answered.  If faculty/chairs can't make it, they are encouraged to provide significant email feedback.   

§         Student affairs/staff voices should also be considered in implementing any plan.  They are currently significantly involved in UWL100. Continued involvement in freshmen foundation courses should be considered.

§         GEC straw poll indicated members were generally in favor of foundations courses; more questions were related to the role and need for UWL 110.

Conversations will continue at next meeting and we will consider feedback from Kick-Off event.  Focus of October 31 meeting will be on Listening Session II topic - Revision of program structure into three levels of coursework (Freshmen Foundations; University Foundations, & In-depth Content Studies and UWL 300.


 VII.  Next meetings:

A.        Monday, October 31 (5th Monday) 

B.       Monday, November 7 (first reads)


 Meeting Adjourned 5:35pm