MINUTES--1996-97 CURRICULUM COMMITTEE MEETING
April 15, 1997; 3:00 p.m.; Behmler Conference Room
Present: Ballou, Bauer, Davis, Farrell, Frenier, Hansen, Imholte, Kissock, Korth, J. Lee, Schuman, Thielke, Vickstrom, Whelan
Absent: Ellis, M. Lee
SPRING QUARTER TIMETABLE:
Schuman distributed copies of a handout showing the
preliminary timetable for consideration of semester proposals
during spring quarter versus the actual progress of the Curriculum
Committee. Schuman did not want to be dictatorial and force a
premature decision; on the other hand, he didn't want to be lacking
in leadership vitality in pushing the group toward a decision.
He could simply continue to schedule more and more CC meetings.
He suggested that members not repeat their own arguments or those
of other members in order to move the discussion along.
REVIEW OF ADJUNCT COMMITTEES:
Schuman assumed that most CC members had seen his
electronic mail about the review of adjunct committees being requested
by Campus Assembly. He has asked that the CC be allowed to deal
with that issue next year and to continue the review of semester
proposals this spring. If that is not acceptable, the CC may have
to hold a Saturday retreat to deal with adjunct committee reviews.
CONTINUED DISCUSSION OF THE COMMON EXPERIENCE PROPOSAL:
Schuman indicated that the CC had discussed the theme
of the proposed common experience course during the last meeting
on this topic. There was lots of discussion about the theme of
diversity: Should "diversity" be interpreted as broadly
as possible and include all types? Or should a middle ground be
taken where the theme is limited to "human diversity"?
He suggested moving the discussion on to format issues.
Schuman noted that the proposal calls for a discussion-based,
small group format for first-year students. Instructors would
choose a specific topic within the theme and students would register
for any of the sections.
Whelan commented, based on his experience as Inquiry
coordinator some years ago, that there is ambiguity built into
the course. In the past, there was never a clear cut directive
about whether transfer students must take the course. Schuman
said that is a good question. Do we intend that first-time freshmen
will be required to take the course? His memory is that most transfer
students did not have to take Inquiry, at least in the last few
years. Thielke said transfer students with 15 credits or less
were required to take Inquiry. Lee noted that the common experience
is supposed to serve as an orientation to college. Schuman suggested
that first-time, first-year students plus transfer students with
less than 16 semester credits be required to take the new common
experience. Whelan said an exclusion of transfer students would
cause a split in the class with students who are not required
to take the common experience thumbing their noses at those who
do have to take it. He expects that there will be more and more
transfer students. Lee hoped that students would want to get into
the common experience course.
Schuman wondered if CC members could act on the assumption
that we are talking about first-year students and transfers with
a small amount of credit and then do the fine-tuning later.
Thielke noted that when Inquiry went into effect
in 1988 we didn't have the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MNTC).
Now, if a student transfers in with the MNTC completed, the common
experience would not be required. In general education, the student
would still be required to fulfill the 90 credits of liberal arts,
the foreign language requirement, and the advanced course requirement.
Kissock proposed that students transferring in with
30 semester credits or less would be required to take the common
experience course. That avoids splitting the class. DeJager noted
that, for Inquiry, students were exempted if they had credits
earned after graduation from high school. Lee was concerned about
the number of sections that would be needed.
Kissock said he agreed with the discussion-based
and small group features of the proposal. He also agreed with
the 7 1/2 week and 2-credit format, but thought that sections
should be available both semesters so that more faculty could
teach the common experience. Lee said the survey showed that most
people agree with the small group, discussion based format.
Schuman wondered what CC members thought about the
idea of having voluntary faculty participation and individualized
syllabi. He thought those aspects were crucial to the success
of the course. What has to be worked out is how much of the course
is individualized. Imholte said the more individualized the sections,
the more students will complain. Vickstrom thought the problems
students had with Inquiry was due to the fact that all sections
were supposed to be the same. It would be better if no one had
the expectation that sections would be identical.
Thielke wondered how individualized the sections
would be. For students transferring out of UMM, the new institution
will want to review the syllabi to determine how the course will
transfer. Will we keep the syllabi on hand so copies can be sent
with students? Schuman thought that would be possible. Lee said
the Common Experience Task Force looked at many options and narrowed
the possibilities down based on feasibility. Thielke said she
was not opposed to the proposal, in fact she supports it. However,
students will be requesting copies of the syllabi and it would
be easier for us to ask for them up front.
Whelan said his experience with Inquiry was that
the commonality had nothing to do with content; it had to do with
process. St. John's University has a symposium where faculty choose
their own topic. They agreed that the sections are common because
of the writing, speaking, and discussion format for each. Are
we talking about commonality being something different from content?
Farrell thought that more faculty would be attracted
to teach the course if it is more varied. It would make life easier
if the course were offered both semesters. One frustration with
the previous common course was trying to get enough faculty to
teach it. He hoped that the campus could look at a cycle of faculty
to teach the common experience so the struggle to find faculty
would not be constant. Schuman said he envisioned having trailer
sections in the spring for transfer students.
Schuman suggested dropping the phrase "once
a week" from the sentence on structure. The requirement could
be for 100 minutes of meeting time per week but leave it open
so that faculty would have the option of splitting time slots
that was suggested by Whelan at a previous meeting. Lee thought
that would be acceptable. He was intrigued by the idea of mingling
sections. He wondered if space would be a problem if that happened.
Thielke said there would be no break time if one 100-minute slot
was divided into two 50-minute slots. Schuman wanted to leave
the door open to this possibility. Imholte thought splitting one
time slot might interfere with other courses the students would
take. Kissock said it was irrelevant for the CC to make a decision
about this now. He suggested a 2-credit course that would be offered
in both semesters.
Schuman said he was not comfortable drifting into
both semesters. The fall semester offering is an important part
of the CETF plan for students to take the common experience during
their first term. Lee agreed. The impact on students is so great.
There is also an economical aspect of the question, since there
will be a limited number of convocations. If there are offerings
both semesters, there will need to be two sets of convocations.
Schuman noted that there is a "limp" in the curriculum
if there are common experience offerings one semester and the
next semester there are not. Kissock said the "drift"
is to say there are trailer sections. The convocations could be
videotaped. Frenier said there could be different speakers. Kissock
noted that there would be a cost to that option.
Farrell thought the CC was spending a lot of time
discussing administrative issues.
Whelan wondered if the common experience was supposed
to be a half-semester in length. Lee said the CETF had originally
discussed that option, but now the proposal is for a full semester.
Hansen said it would be nice to have the common experience
offered in the first semester, but that might cause too much of
a sacrifice (faculty would be excluded from teaching it). Imholte
said the first semester aspect of the proposal was discussed thoroughly
by the CETF and proposed because of practicality and the goals
of the course. There was a lot of debate on this issue. Davis
agreed. The CETF talked about this issue for a long time. She
agreed that some students could trickle into the second semester.
Ballou said there seemed to be two issues involved.
One issue is a policy consideration: Should this be introduced
in the first semester? It is important for orienting the student.
The other issue deals with resources: Can we give up the faculty
needed to teach the course?
Whelan thought it very important for students to
take the course in the first semester they are on campus. Inquiry
was always offered in the fall quarter. If students don't get
the common experience the first fall, then put them in it the
next fall. Mooney noted that McGrath had reported to the CETF
about retention studies which show that students make a decision
about staying in college within the first seven weeks of the first
Schuman asked for a straw vote. How many CC members
believe that the first semester requirement is an important part
of the proposal? There were 7 in favor. Two members voted to offer
the course either semester of the first year.
Schuman wondered if CC members wanted to vote on
the 2-credit aspect of the proposal. Kissock thought the Committee
would be able to move ahead with more straw votes. Hansen thought
the credit issue was too important to deal with in the short time
remaining. He comes down heavily in favor of a 4-credit course.
There has been too much focus on what we can do rather than on
what we need to do. A 2-credit offering is only half a course.
Lee said his point was well taken. On the other hand, we need
a program that will work. A 4-credit course would be impossible
to administer. Davis said she understood Hansen's point, but having
a 4-credit course will not solve the problems that Inquiry had.
With this course writing is strongly encouraged but not required.
Hansen said the course is not a common experience if that is true.
He thought the topic was too broad.
Thielke said we would be able to house a 4-credit
course for one meeting time per week only. Frenier said we could
move it into both semesters.
Schuman said the Committee would not be able to finish
the discussion on the Common Experience Proposal at this meeting.
He proposed that the next two meetings be devoted to discussion
of the General Education Program Proposal and discussion would
return to the Common Experience Proposal next week.
The next meeting is a joint CC/GEC meeting about
the General Education Program proposal on Wednesday, April 16,
3:00 p.m., Behmler Conference Room. There will also be a meeting
on Friday, April 18, 9:00 a.m., Moccasin Flower Room.
Meeting adjourned 4:00 p.m.
Submitted by Nancy Mooney