General Education Committee

Meeting Minutes

November 4, 2008

Old Main 110

Present: Nancy Aumann, Merle Canfield, Anita Chiodo, John Hartsock,� Joy Hendrick, Valerie Jones, Bruce Mattingly, David Miller (Chair), Amber Murphy, Joseph Rayle, Claus Schubert, Donna West.

Absent: Susana Davidenko, Mark Worrell

1.       Bruce Mattingly agreed to take the minutes for this meeting.


2.       There were two corrections to the minutes from the October 21 meeting: Mark Worrell was absent and John Hartsock was present. The amended minutes were approved.


3.       Chair�s report: Letters have been sent out to all faculty in the assessment pool whose classes may be selected for assessment in spring 2009. Some department chairs requested the names of faculty in their departments who had received the letter. David Miller sent a request to George Feissner to ask that the Quantitative Skills Committee be convened, that they review the SUNY-approved rubrics for assessment of GE math courses, and make a recommendation to the GE Committee by March 1, 2009. Bruce Mattingly indicated that he would be willing to meet with the Quantitative Skills committee. Joy Hendrick announced that she had participated in a recent GEAR teleconference. GEAR is searching for an alternative to the rubrics.


4.       Request to include PHI 201 and PHI 202 in the GE5 Category: David Miller distributed and then read the description and learning outcomes for Category 5: Western Civilization. �It was agreed that it should be standard procedure for the committee to first review the category description before considering specific courses to be included.


The committee first considered PHI 201. This course had previously been submitted for inclusion in the GE5 Category in spring 2007. Committee members who were serving at the time recalled their concerns that the course, as originally proposed, had a limited historical focus. Since that time, the Philosophy Department has revised the course description, and these changes have been approved. The committee agreed that the revised course had a much broader scope. There was some concern that the cover memo provided by Kathy Russell, Chair of the Philosophy Department, made reference to historical topics (e.g. comparison of Western concepts with those of India and China) that were not included in the course outline. A second concern was raised: the course outline did not specifically address the writing requirement of at least 5 pages for all GE courses.


A motion by Joy Hendrick, seconded by Amber Murphy, was made for contingent approval of PHI 201 for the GE5 category, provided that the Philosophy Department amend the course outline so that it (1) addressed the writing requirement of at least 5 pages, and (2) updated the list of historical topics to include those referenced in the cover memo. This motion was approved by a vote of 10-0.


The committee next discussed PHI 202. Questions were raised regarding the connection between the course content and the Western Civilization category, and whether or not the course had a sufficient focus on historical issues.� It was noted that the GE 5 category does not limit courses to a specific time frame, and that the list of currently approved courses is quite diverse. A sentence from the chair�s cover memo was questioned, and the following editorial change was recommended (added word is shown in bold):


In PHI 202 Modern Philosophy and its historical context are looked at as influencing each other.


David Miller agreed to advise Kathy Russell of this change.


A motion by Joy Hendrick, seconded by Claus Schubert, was made for contingent approval of PHI 202 for the GE5 category, provided that the Philosophy Department amends the course outline so that it addressed the writing requirement of at least 5 pages. This motion was approved by a vote of 9-1.


The committee noted in its discussions that the General Education Course Proposal Form needed two revisions. Instead of requesting that a recent course syllabus be attached, the form should indicate that a course outline should be attached. This would make the form consistent with the curriculum forms provided in the new SUNY Cortland Curriculum Change Guide. Secondly, it was agreed that there should be a check-off box for the proposing department to indicate their acknowledgement and acceptance of the 5-page minimum writing requirement. Nancy Aumann agreed to make these changes.


5.       Merle Canfield distributed outcome reports from the assessments of GE categories 4, 8, 9 and 10b conducted in spring 2008. He also distributed results from the NSSE (National Survey of Student Engagement.) Merle indicated that he needed to get feedback from appropriate faculty so that he could complete his report to SUNY. He noted that for most of the categories, the results seemed to be good, but that a large percentage of students did not meet the standards for GE9 (Foreign Language.) This issue requires further study to determine if there is congruence between departmental expectations for the 101 level courses, grading standards of individual instructors, and the SUNY learning outcomes for this category. Concerns were raised that SUNY Cortland has not identified any benchmarks for the level of student achievement that we expect for the GE assessments, and t hat it is therefore difficult to interpret assessment results.


It was agreed that the departments involved in last year�s GE assessment need to review the results so that they had the opportunity to consider whether changes� were needed in either curriculum or pedagogy, and whether the learning outcomes were being measured appropriately. Bruce Mattingly agreed to draft a memo with a list of questions to guide departments so that they provided the needed information in their responses needed for our report to SUNY.


6.       Course review for GE categories 4, 7, 10 and 12: David Miller will divide the GE committee members into subcommittees to address each of the 4 categories to be reviewed this year. The intent is to collect and review syllabi for all approved courses, and to give departments a chance to consider whether particular courses should be retained in the categories. Requests will be made using the form letter that was used previously. The goal is to complete this review by the end of the semester.


7.       Mark Worrell has been unable to attend GE Committee meetings due to conflicts with his scheduled classes. David Miller agreed to contact Mark and explore options, which would include (1) stepping down from the committee and finding a replacement, (2) continuing to participate by serving on a subcommittee, or (3) determining whether his schedule would allow participation in spring 2009.


Meeting was adjourned at 2:30 PM.