General Education Final Report to Faculty Senate, May 2008

 

This year marked the first year in many that there was only a Chair of General Education and no Director. With a campus used to having a Director, this made the job of Chair very busy and it was even more important that the General Education Committee work together harmoniously. With very little exception, we did. (I attribute this in part on the sugary treats that I brought to each meeting.) Before beginning this report, then, I would like to again thank Eric Fuhrmann, Erik Kahl, Don Sloan, Tom Pribek, Eric Kraemer, Adrienne Loh, Cris Prucha, Michael Current, Jon Fields, and Bob Ragan for their hard work, insightful comments, and clear passion for the job at hand.

 

We had agreed as a committee at our initial fall retreat that we wanted to focus on assessment this year, which we did. We also wanted to be overtly transparent as we felt that there was a lot of paranoia on campus regarding attempts to change the program behind everyone’s backs. We worked on this problem all year by my sending out periodic emails to campus regarding our progress. We trust that even if these were not read by everyone, at least the honesty and openness was appreciated.

 

The GEC received only two formal charges from SEC this year and accomplished both. The first charge was to revise the LX140 form; we accomplished this task by the end of October. This new form was used to propose about a dozen new courses this year, mostly during the second semester. The second charge from the SEC was to make a motion regarding the University Core proposal in light of the results of the campus survey done by the SEC in the fall. On 2/4/08, we unanimously voted down the University Core with the intent to salvage some of the many good ideas from that proposal to incorporate into a “salvage plan”.

 

Even though there were only two formal charges from SEC, there were many, many things to do this year in the form of regular committee work and requests from a variety of other people on campus. Therefore, we accomplished much more than the two charges from SEC, making the following progress this year, listed somewhat chronologically:

  • Some GEC members attended a conference on General Education in the fall and learned, as we have known for some time, that we are so far behind the times in General Education that it is embarrassing.
  • A new General Education web site was developed by Deb Hoskins that was maintained by Anne Galbraith, http://www.uwlax.edu/gened
  • As charged by FS, a more streamlined LX140 form was developed to make course proposals as easy to prepare and review as possible. The intent is to continue to modify this form as necessary. The form and instructions for its use are found at http://www.uwlax.edu/gened/Instructors.htm
  • We assigned campus the task of mapping primary and secondary Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) for each General Education course taught. Currently, only one course remains unmapped. (See http://www.uwlax.edu/gened/Assessment.htm for the spreadsheet of courses and their respective SLOs).
  • We discussed the Assessment Task Force proposal brought to the GEC by the Assessment Task Force, and passed it, albeit not unanimously (one against, one abstention). Some members of FS did not agree with parts of the proposal, and therefore, this issue was tabled when it first arrived at Senate in one of their final fall meetings. I pointed out to FS at that meeting that GEC needed help with assessment because this is going to be an initially overwhelming task for a committee that is already burdened with so many other tasks. After further consideration at a spring meeting, Senate agreed to a three-year ad hoc Assessment Committee. The GEC quickly developed a charge for that committee as requested by FS, the charge was passed by FS, and this committee began its work just prior to the end of the spring semester. Hopefully, this will all have occurred quickly enough to allow campus the time to at least begin to assess their General Education courses so that we will be in some semblance of compliance with “the powers that be” the next time they look.
  • As charged by FS, we discussed the results of the SEC survey of the proposed modification to the University Core, and voted unanimously to eliminate this proposal so that we could start over cleanly, with the idea of keeping some of the best ideas from that proposal for a “salvage plan”. Senate agreed with our recommendation.
  • The “salvage plan” (found in its current state at the end of this report) was then discussed at length. Some members of GEC wanted to formulate a plan immediately, whereas others wanted to wait for assessment data. In the end, the work in its current state was provided to campus for feedback, but due to time constraints, nothing further was done with it by the GEC. I am recommending that continuing work on these changes be a charge from Senate for 08-09.
  • We discussed the position description for the General Education Director, voted unanimously to change this significantly as historically what was proposed hasn’t worked, and proposed an alternative plan to Senate that would. Unfortunately, this proposal was tabled by Senate until next fall in what seemed to have been the middle of a discussion of its drawbacks and merits. The vote to table was not unanimous by any means, which suggests that next year’s FS will discuss this important proposal again. Because effective leadership is critical to the smooth operation of the GEC, I am recommending that this issue be a high priority for FS in 08-09.  
  • About a dozen new courses were reviewed and added to the General Education program (see http://www.uwlax.edu/gened/New.htm for a list). Some course proposals provoked stimulating discussions about the number of courses from a given department that should be accepted into the GE program, the role and placement of interdisciplinary courses into the GE program, and the role and appropriateness of upper level courses in the GE program.
  • As a result of these discussions, a list of “DO’s and DON’T’s” for new course proposals was developed and added to the GE web site (see http://www.uwlax.edu/gened/Instructors.htm).
  • Several writing emphasis instructor certification proposals were read and approved, many for courses that were currently being taught already as WE courses for students. The WE/WIMP program is in disarray and has been limping along for several years. I am recommending that long-term fixes for this mess be a charge from Senate for 08-09.  

 

Recommendations for Charges for GEC in 08-09:

NOTE: Although we welcome Tom Gendreau’s addition to the committee, it is unfortunate that Tom Pribek’s request to be reinstated was accidently missed. Perhaps committee assignment requests should become electronic to prevent these kinds of oversights in the future. With the same committee members as last year except for one, we hope that Senators will give us the benefit of the doubt for being intelligent and logical in our deliberations during the 08-09 academic year.

  • Work with FS to get something figured out quickly with regard to having a point person in charge of General Education, whether that is a director or a chair.
  • Assessment data will not be due from campus until June 2009. However, GEC should be looking at the assessment plans that come to the Assessment Committee in October 2008 to be sure that all departments are compliant and then enforce compliance.
  • GEC became concerned this year about “diluting” categories as more and more good courses are brought forward. This issue should be discussed and resolved in light of two other items that were discussed this year: possible modifications to the current program (see appended work so far) and requiring an FYE course for all students. The FYE issue was delayed because we are waiting for reports due in the 08-09 academic year from folks who were paid to modify HPR105 and CST110 into FYE courses.
  • WE/WIMP. What a mess. ‘nuf said.

 

 

 

Sincerely,

Anne Galbraith

Chair of GEC 07-08


 

APPENDIX      University Core: Salvaging a Compromise

·                    ALL current GenEd courses will remain in the program unless a department or instructor wants to eliminate one of their own

·                    GEC will place courses into categories based on their understanding of the course. However, departments or instructors will have the final say with regard to where a course is best placed so long as argument behind the placement makes sense from a General Education perspective (i.e., is not based on course enrollment predictions, etc.)

 

                                                                       

Tier I: Taken within first 60 credits (45???)

13 credits

1.        Writing (ENG110)-3*

2.        Oral Communication (CST110)-3

3.        Math-4

4.        Well-Being (HPR105, SAH105)

 

FYE** (such as UWL100, CST110, HPR105)  0-1

 

* Taken within 1st 30 credits

**Strongly recommended to be taken within first semester.

Tier II: Taken any time

26 Credits

A. Fine and Performing Arts [4 min]

B. Global Perspective [3 min]

C. Humanities [3 min, 1 lit req]

D. Math/Logic/Language [3 min]

E.  Natural  Science [4 min]

F.  Social Science [3 min]

G. Diversity [3 min]

H. Historical Foundation [3 min]

I.  GE Electives (minimum of XX credits A-H)

 

 

WE/WIMP [0-6]

 

 

 

Total: 46-48 credits min

Number of credits total; Too modest


 

·         Students are strongly recommended to do at least 2 of the following:


 

Capstone Course

Study Abroad Experience

Service Learning Experience

Undergraduate Research

Upper-level Interdisciplinary Course

Honors Program