UCC Final Report—2008-09 Academic Year
The 2008-09 Undergraduate Curriculum Committee was charged with six individual responsibilities:
1. Communicate with departments and request they delay the effective dates of any curriculum changes until the fall of 2009, to coincide with printing of the new UG catalog and implementation of the new Student Information System (SIS).
Response: The Registrar, Christine Bakkum, completed this task early in the fall semester of 2008.
2. Please review the issue of “hidden pre-requisites” with the Registrar to determine if any recommendation regarding this issue is appropriate.
Response: The committee discussed this topic several times during the year…we are in general agreement that programs vary widely in the reporting of credits—some report only credits within a program, while others include text describing pre-requisites outside of the home department. The concerns are two-fold: 1) students undergoing registration or exploring new majors may be confused about the actual credit requirement, or somehow waste time in their program due to poor planning, and 2) UCC has a tough time enforcing the 40-credit majors limit due to uncertainties in program size (see Charge #5 below). The committee decided that the timing of making a decision on hidden pre-requisite reporting is poor, due to the new PeopleSoft systems being implemented. We suggest that next year’s UCC have an opportunity to see the format of the new SIS and catalog before acting in some way.
3. Determine if a “common format” for each department be incorporated into the new catalog is desirable or necessary.
Response: The committee overwhelmingly felt that, due to the wide variation in program offerings and descriptions among units, a common format should not be employed in the new catalog…it would be too restrictive and possibly leave out useful information specific to a program or department. No changes are recommended.
4. Determine whether the use of “hyperlinks” within the electronic on-line catalog be considered as a means of making cross-checks of listed requirements more simple.
Response: As we have been informed, a limited amount of such linking will be available on the online catalog in order to explore additional requirements. The committee suggests that a demo of the catalog be presented to UCC before making any recommendations on cross-linking.
5. Review the 40-credit limit for majors and recommend if this policy needs clarification.
Response: While UCC bylaws mandate a 40-cr limit for majors, this limit has been exceeded on at least three occasions during the past two years—for the addition of a capstone course in two science programs, and for additional credits in an Art program. There are several issues here…1) the value that constitutes the actual credit requirements for a program is somewhat open for interpretation, given the often substantial hidden pre-requisite credit requirements in some programs (see Charge #2 above), 2) new university-wide efforts to increase assessment in all programs may necessitate the addition of a “capstone” course, 3) programs and departments may want to follow trends in their fields and peer institutions, but may not have a requirement mandated by a relevant certifying professional society. We have run across a couple examples of certifying bodies suggesting new program formats rather than requiring them. Given these issues, the committee decided to add some flexibility to the 40-credit limit in exceptional cases, given that the practice no longer matches the policy (approved unanimously by Faculty Senate, 5/7/09):
“No department may require more than 40 semester credits in one major unless it becomes necessary to do so in order to 1) meet external requirements for certification or accreditation as prescribed by an external agency or accrediting group or 2) approved by the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee in exceptional cases.”
We feel that this will allow future committees the flexibility to assess a variety of program situations.
6. Review the data related to the ratio of students graduating with a BS vs a BA to determine if an “imbalance” exists and whether this needs to be addressed through curriculum changes.
Response: The College of Liberal Studies, whom this issue largely pertains to, conducted a survey of the BS vs BA ratio during the academic year. Specific curricular changes were passed by UCC during the past semester to account for the findings. UCC did not take any direct actions on the matter.
Chair, UCC 2008-09