University of Minnesota, Morris
MINUTES-1997-98 CURRICULUM COMMITTEE MEETING #17
May 12, 1998; 8:00 a.m.; Behmler Conference Room
Present: Ballou, Beiswenger, Ellis, Farrell, Frenier, Kissock, Korth, Lee, Leroux, McIntosh, Nylander, Schuman, Taylor, Thielke
[In these minutes: approval of Science and Math Division curricular proposals in Chem (quarters), Biol/WSS and Math/Mgmt (semesters); discussion of Provision V of the semester General Education Requirements; discussion of McIntosh proposal on labeling of lab/discussion classes using student assistants.]
McIntosh wondered if the human anatomy course in WSS which has a lab component will be designated as a lab science course in the GER. Korth and Kissock agreed that the course had a lab. Schuman noted that the Form C for WSS 2102 specifically states on page two in the General Education section that "this course does not fulfill the requirements set forth in the GEN ED documents." Kissock had not realized that the course was not being proposed for a general education designator. Schuman commented that WSS would have to revise the proposal in order to include a general education designator; the CC will deal with the proposal as submitted.
McIntosh wondered if it is expected that the instructor will be present in the lab. Kissock said yes. McIntosh said that is not always true, so he felt he needed to ask. Schuman said that, in WSS, he thought it was always true that the faculty member was in the lab. Kissock agreed, although he noted that faculty do not always teach the skills courses.
MOTION (Understood): To approve the following Science and Math proposals:
QUARTERS-Chem 3531, 3533, 3535
SEMESTERS-Biol 4101, 4102, Biol/WSS 2102, Math/Mgmt 3501-3502
VOTE: Unanimous in favor (11-0-0).
Thielke noted that the need is not just for the new semester GER. Students completing the quarter GER need designated C2 and W courses. Schuman suggested that the way to handle that problem is to look at what happened to the quarter courses that were designated as C2 and W or we could say that students graduating under quarters who have not met these requirements by fall of 1999 do not have to meet them. We could ask disciplines to designate C2 and W courses under semesters, but that would be an irritating exercise.
Lee asked if C2 and W courses were not being designated under semesters. Schuman said there are no W or C2 requirements in the semester GER.
Ballou noted that the present APAS reports talk about the C2 requirement. Will the new APAS under semesters have that? Thielke said the APAS report will designate requirements as specified by the Curriculum Committee. Most English courses tend to be taught as writing courses. She would be comfortable with Schuman's suggestion of waiving the requirement for students using the quarter GER but graduating after the start of semesters. Ballou wondered how soon the computing office would need to know the requirements in order to write the APAS program. Thielke said her office does the APAS reports and would need some lead time. It would be easy to write in a discontinuation of the requirement, however.
Schuman said we could send a reminder to disciplines but not ask for anything back. Farrell said he would like to do something like that. His discipline is in a unique situation where he is the only person on campus to work on the major this spring. A second colleague is on leave and the third is to be hired to start in the fall. Schuman said he could send each discipline a note reminding them of the GER provision and saying that they would have to do something about Provision V for the next catalog revision.
Thielke wondered if exceptions would be handled by petition or if the requirement would be waived. Schuman said we could say an equivalent course would meet the requirement or we could drop the requirement. Kissock wondered how many disciplines would be prepared to write a statement for Provision V now. Do Division Chairs know? Farrell said no. Leroux wondered about courses that didn't meet W under quarters but do under semesters; a mapping of quarter W courses would not identify those courses. Schuman said the statement in the catalog could indicate that students who take certain courses have met the requirement.
Farrell noted that, for majors requiring writing or computing courses from another discipline, there must be consultation with the other discipline involved and that Division Chair. A situation like that is currently causing serious staffing problems in the Humanities Division.
Schuman wondered what CC members thought about his suggestion that disciplines be reminded about Provision V and told it will be required for the next catalog. Ballou said the reminder needs to include a statement that faculty need to advise students about this requirement within the major. Schuman agreed.
Lee wondered how many students might be in the category of needing a W or C2 course. Thielke thought there would be quite a few. The writing requirement is often one of the last of the general education requirements to be met. We are already being asked how students will be expected to meet the W and C2 requirements.
Korth thought disciplines would not have difficulty designating semester coures with W and C2 designators for use with the quarter GER. Thielke said it would be helpful if the statements were completed before annual planning next year. Kissock did not see this as a big issue. He thought it could be accomplished next fall.
Schuman sensed a consensus. He said he would remind people in the fall to remember that they will have to prepare a statement for semesters and designate courses for the quarter GER.
"Courses designed or expected to use undergraduate teaching assistants in charge of classroom, discussion or laboratory instruction should indicate this use of undergraduate teaching assistants in the course catalog and course schedule."
Ratliff-Crain's memo argues against the motion. Schuman asked if McIntosh wished to say anything about his rationale for making the motion.
McIntosh said a number of courses incorporate undergraduate Teaching Assistants (TAs) in laboratories or classroom discussions. He thought that information should be available in the catalog and class schedule for prospective and current students and parents about the use of TAs.
Schuman said he wished we would excise the term "TA" at UMM. It means something else throughout academia compared to the way the term is used here. Korth wondered what the distinction was. Schuman said at other institutions, entire sections are given over to TAs and all of the instruction is done by the TA. Not a single course here is done that way. McIntosh said that term is used in the UMM way within the sciences nationwide; that is what he had been paid for as a physics TA at other institutions. Frenier and Schuman said that they had done a lot more than that as TAs at other institutions. Farrell said in the foreign languages, he was called a "drill master" when doing similar work. He also thinks the UMM use of the term is odd. The term obviously has a variety of meanings. Frenier commented that other terms are awkward. When she was a TA, she did everything in connection with teaching the class except for choosing the main text.
Ballou said she has been disturbed by the use of the term "TA." "Teacher" should mean something in terms of the level of expertise that doesn't happen with TAs here. We could call them "student facilitators." Lee suggested that the CC could advertise next year for a name. In the Social Sciences Division, the term "TA" was discussed one time. They decided to emphasize the word "undergraduate" with the use of TA in order to distinguish the difference between what UMM student assistants do and what graduate TAs do. He can see the point that there is possible use or abuse of student assistants. It could shortcut the learning experience of students. If TAs are conscientiously guided, there are positive sides, particularly with learning from a peer. An argument was made in Campus Assembly some years ago by students that the University is a community of scholars. He strongly hopes the TA system will be fostered, but we need to be sure there is no abuse.
Schuman reminded CC members, in order to keep on track, that McIntosh's proposal would not keep people from using TAs, only designate which courses were using TAs. McIntosh said he preferred an operational definition. If you walk into a room and ask who is in charge here, would the student say the faculty member is in charge or the student? Lee said the student should be the deputy of the faculty member. In political science, only one hour per week is a TA session. The TA session is an integral part of the performance for the grade, but the course is under the instructor's direction.
Schuman commented that, although he has worried sometimes about our use of students as TAs, he has never had a complaint from a student about what is going on in the classes conducted by TAs, even though he gets a lot of complaints from students about what is going on in their classes. The point where he gets "queasy" is when undergraduate students are grading each other and he knows this happens at UMM. Frenier said she uses students to grade map exercises, but the students sit with her to do the grading. All of the essays are done by her, although she does use assistants. The class can be broken into smaller groups with TAs and students are more willing to share problems with another student rather than with the instructor. The students like it. Not everyone uses assistants in the same way. We need flexibility.
McIntosh pointed out that the motion doesn't say how the TAs should be used. Frenier wondered about Ratliff-Crain's statement that this is a warning, not simply truth in labeling. McIntosh said it provides information. He is not suggesting how it should be carried out. He wondered what CC students thought about this issue. Nylander said she is a TA in scene design because she wants to learn about teaching at the collegiate level. She liked the class she had with TAs. Ballou wondered if Nylander thought the label mattered. Nylander thought that the term "student facilitator" seemed more appropriate. A faculty member told her to use TA in reference to her own experience. It might seem inviting to students to know that a TA is in charge of the class. Frenier thought the term "TA" might help on a graduate school application. Nylander said she is attracted to a course based on who is teaching the course and the course description.
Schuman reminded CC members that the motion is not to do away with TAs, but to label classes which use TAs. Lee suggested that a symbol be identified to signify classes which use TAs rather than replicating a lengthy statement in each course description. Taylor said he wouldn't want to see generic labels placed on courses; he would want to see a statement describing exactly how TAs are used in that class. Farrell said he would prefer not to label courses in this way, but if we are going to do it, he would want to be very careful about what he said so that it would be understood externally. Also, he would want to do it only in the class schedule because multi-section courses may have some sections with TAs and others without.
Thielke commented on the "truth in advertising" aspect of this issue. Faculty members do not always know in February when the class schedule is prepared if they will be using a TA the following year. She would prefer to put in a statement like "student assistants may be used in this class."
Schuman indicated that this discussion, along with the discussion about the ITV Guidelines, would have to be continued at the next meeting.
Meeting adjourned 8:55 a.m.
Submitted by Nancy Mooney
Send comments to Nancy Mooney
Send comments to the Curriculum Committee