3 October 2003 

MINUTES for the Committee on Academic Policies and Standards (CAPS)



Members Present:  Jac Bulk, Susan Crutchfield, Mike Haupert, Mark Headington, Sharon Jessee, Marc Rott, Robert Wolf (excused: Adrienne Loh, Barry Schockmel)


Student Members present:  Larry Golba, Jason Savatski (excused: Angie Murphy)


Guests:  Tim Lewis, Elizabeth Hitch, Virginia Crank, Diane Schumacher, Amelia Dittman, Carla, Burkhardt, Antoiwana Williams, Guy Herling, Kathy Kiefer, Dean Stroud


Marc called the meeting to order at 3:20 p.m..


M/S/P:  approval of minutes from September meeting.  Discussion of anonymity policy regarding appeals by students.


I.  The first of the three charges for the committee today:  ACT Writing Test:  should UW-L recommend or require that students take this additional ACT component, which will be launched sometime next year.


Discussion:  Tim Lewis presented details and an ACT brochure on the new writing test.  Given the challenges of enrollment management, could this instrument serve as an additional placement tool?  Tim reported that several faculty on campus have asked him about screening students' writing abilities more thoroughly in the admissions process.


Discussion:  Virginia Crank, Assistant Professor in the English Department and a Composition specialist, offered some perspectives based on her recent experience with evaluating a test batch of the ACT's new writing component, still in its planning phase.  Virginia suggested that what the test will tell you is how well students can do on a 20 minute writing sample; beyond that, the exam will not reveal how the student can do the type of writing required for university classes.  She noted that timed writings, especially of the short length of 20 minutes, tell us very little about the kind of writing done in courses here. The ACT will use a curve, and they will create the scoring guide in order to achieve that curve.  The English Department would be interested in placement tools, but the ACT test would not be a good choice; better tools for placement would be portfolios, or at least a longer, more sustained type of writing assignment.


Discussion:  Various members of the committee made comments about whether or not we should jump at this ACT component now, before it has been completely fleshed out; for example, ACT has not yet decided whether or not the new writing test score will be reported separately, or "blended" into the overall ACT score.  The latter option was of great concern to several committee members.   Marc Rott suggested that we cannot resolve all of the issues today, and that we will take it up again next week.


II.  The second charge of the CAPS committee today:  Summer School Schedule:  Making the May Term a four-week  period beginning immediately after Spring Semester ends, and thus giving consistency to what has become a chaotic scheduling for Summer school.


Discussion:  Liz Hitch and Dean Stroud presented various statistics to illustrate the inconsistencies already present in May term scheduling: classes not beginning on the same day, some going four weeks, some three, and so forth (57 May term courses last year, 43 of them in different configurations of time).  By making May term a four-week calendar, but still allowing the option of a three-week May term if faculty wish to do a course in three weeks, can lend symmetry to the Summer school schedule.  Dean pointed out that the third four-week session could still be over by early August, giving that needed break.  Liz noted that she has discussed the implications of this with units on Campus which would be affected, such as Murphy Library's scheduling; there would have to be some adjustments, of course.


Discussion:  various members of the committee raised questions about what all of the implications are for doing this -- especially how each of the different possibilities needs to be identified:


Will there be a firm start date for the first 3-4 week summer session, whether you are doing a four or a three-week course?


If a faculty member wishes to do a three-week course beginning the second week of the four-week May term, is that possible? 


Right now, students may take two courses in the 4-week summer terms; but only one in the May term; what will happen if the May term becomes a four-week summer schedule, but some faculty use it for the three-week course?  How will student enrollment be managed in terms of credits?


Should a student be allowed to take a three-week May term course, and a four-week summer school course, at the same time?


Day/period scheduling:  what are the various concerns here with conflicts in scheduling? Should Friday be a day off?


An alternate model consisting of perhaps a 5+5 schedule was discussed.


All of these need to be addressed separately before any recommendations can be made by the committee.


III.  The third charge:  assess the report on Enrollment Management for Fall '03.


Discussion:  Tim Lewis presented statistics on this Fall's enrollment management.  The plan currently in effect is "EM-21," and UW-L is 1% off its target for this semester.  Tim went over the documentation:  the balances between new freshmen and transfer students, the decreasing number of out-of-state students.


Discussion:  Liz Hitch pointed out that for every four non-resident students we can get to UW-L, we can fund one resident student.


Discussion:  Tim noted that our drop in non-resident students may cause UW-L to lose some funding from System.


Discussion:  various members of the committee were curious about this; one suggestion is to bring Ron Lostetter to the CAPS committee to explain.  Marc suggested we take up this issue next meeting as well as the previous two charges.


M/S/P:  Meeting adjourned at 5:15 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 3, 2003.