Index of Topics 3/3/09

Approved 3/31/2009;  to Faculty Senate 4/6/09

Committee on Undergrad Education – Discussion





Regular Meeting  --  March 3, 2009


Chair Roger Thompson called the meeting of the 2008-2009 Academic Coordinating Commission to order at

4:07 pm on Tuesday, March 3, 2009.  There were fifteen (15) members present, the Recorder (1) and two guests (3) for a total of eighteen (18).  Chair Thompson welcomed Brianne Kumar, Associated Students, who is replacing Chelsea Fletcher.  Thompson reminded the members that this would be Jim Hearne’s last meeting as he will be on sabbatical spring quarter.


Approval of ACC minutesMembers approved minutes of  February 17, 2009 as written.  Thompson reported that the Senate Executive had reviewed the draft discussion on the proposed Committee on Undergraduate Education.


Report on Student Course Evaluations

·       Nikki Brown, AS, reported that Associated Students conducted a survey to gain information on students’ responses to course evaluations.  The survey asked “What is the purpose of the student course evaluations?” and “would you respond to an online survey?”; Brown reported that students would favor a “pilot” online evaluation, both for cost-saving and because it allows for statistical significance..  About fifty students were surveyed in the sample.

·       Faculty like the idea of having a comment section in the teaching evaluations and agreed that students seem to take extra time to answer the surveys when they are online, although fewer students complete them.  Faculty can ask for specific answers to assignments, or include virtual mentoring, or other comments that benefit their teaching.  Brown will provide a written version of her report.  Currently the Office of Institutional Assessment and Research is preparing to update the Senate on the online options.


Report from the Chair:   Chair Thompson reported that the Senate had eliminated the need to tape its meetings, and with the agreement of ACC members taping of meetings in ACC will also be discontinued.


Appointments and Elections

One vacancy remaining:  1 Faculty to ACC from Area A for Spring Quarter




Curriculum Committee


ACC Action and notes


Graduate Council (postponed from 2/17/09)


Minutes are ACCEPTED, except  for a sentence in the minutes that implied that the CBE policy council approved a proposal for an MBA program in Everett.  Instead the sentence should read:  “The CBE policy council approved a feasibility study for offering an MBA program for executives and professionals in Everett.”   This paragraph of the minutes will be returned for revision to Grad Cncl


Grad Cncl cont’d


Commissioners urged improvement in the length of time it took to get the minutes to the Commission for approval, especially since catalog copy deadline is passed. 


General Education Requirements Committee



LEAP initiative links can be found on ACC website.


International Programs Advisory Committee


ACCEPTED.  X37 course approval process under continued discussion.



The Proposal to Create the ACC Standing Committee on Undergraduate Education

Commissioners viewed the new charge for the new Committee on Undergraduate Education (For the draft charge see ACC minutes of February 17, 2009).  Commissioners suggested the following for bullet point three:

·    Faculty, in collaboration and with the support of the provost’ office, periodically review the goals and expected learning outcomes of undergraduate education, assess progress toward these goals, and offer assistance toward their attainment.


Other Comments by Commissioners

·    Writing Proficiency.  Who will determine whether a course fulfills a writing proficiency requirement?  Does the GER committee have to approve every WP course?  Writing proficiency should also include “analyze and communicate ideas effectively in oral, written and visual communication form”.  But focus on “WP” seems to eliminate the importance of the other forms of communication.

·    Pedagogically, one central question is whether or not ACC thinks it is important to vet what is being presented to the students as a WP course.  Right now, if a department wants to teach a course as a GUR course, ACC only signs off on it.  Does ACC still want to delegate those decisions on WP to the department level?  With the challenge of many more WP courses does this still seem like a good idea?

·    Faculty think there needs to be fairly clear guidelines on what qualifies as WP1. Kathy Knutzen pointed out that right now there is a pretty good dynamic because a faculty member is willing to tack that WP on even late in the process thereby providing more opportunity for students.  Some evaluation of the WP component might be good, but let’s try to retain that dynamic.

·    Course Approval and Accountability.  Steve VanderStaay explained that he doesn’t want to slow down course approval or flexibility; this committee could do anything they want, perhaps sample syllabi just once a year.  They can have authority over undergraduate writing without requiring course approval for every course. 

·    Another member would like us not to think about evaluating writing, rather periodically have each department report on how it is meeting WP goals.  The word accountability should stress the meaning “let us give you more ideas to make what you are doing stronger”.  If a department has a shortage and faculty do not want to take on the extra work involved is there some other way WP can be met?  Accountability does force the faculty teacher to think about what different types of writing she/he can include. For example, a management student can learn how to write to other executives.  Commissioners do not want the committee to be perceived as the “WP police” or the “curriculum police”. Rather this committee wants to bring the various elements of undergraduate writing to one committee with one set of responsibilities.

·    The Support System.  When we removed that old language that included defining writing to include rewriting, redrafts, etc., we increased the possibility that students have more than one sample or example of writing, but at the same time we relaxed the standards to achieve that.  Now there are lots of guidelines and pedagogic insights, but the important thing is to have to have a strong support system around writing. 

·    In the “good old days” other people would read out students’ papers and give faculty better ideas, especially those who have more expertise.  We had more writing fellows, and writing faculty, and for deficient students we had a bigger support system.  They would be assigned to the writing center and sent to skills classes.  What we really need is not more standards, but more support and more money.  When we moved over to using the writing test we all got trained on how to do the writing test; but before that we had tremendous support around writing.  This has to be an attempt to capture that spirit where writing had someone at the highest levels looking out for the student at the table who needed help. 

·    Perhaps this committee could get us back to those ancient days when the Writing Center and its students helped us in one of the most important things, reasonable standards for each level of student development.  We need to ask what is reasonable for a student writer in computer science who is a sophomore, for example, and then perhaps realize that yes; they can get by with this skill level at this point of their developing maturity as student writers. 

·    Getting the Information Out to Faculty.  Many faculty do not know they have the writing service available to them.  We have to do a better job of communicating, even though the information comes out in PRAXIS. 

·    Writing should happen from first year to last year and not just in one area.  We hope this committee would not get in the policing mode, but bring people together who can think broadly about writing across the students’ entire career at Western. 

·    Steve VanderStaay pointed out that faculty approve and guide the process.  His office will have to act on this next quarter.  He is charged to have a plan to provide strategies for assessing general education to the ACC and the Deans so that they can choose the best method to proceed. 

·    The New Committee.  Jeff Purdue mentioned the possibility of having a library faculty on the committee, although the library is represented on ACC.  He pointed out that there is a lack of systematic instruction in research skills in the first two years, and that these skills are covered much better in the majors.  The plan is that this committee will work closely with ACC.  The committee will include an ACC representative.


Thanks Expressed to Jim Hearne

Commissioners and Chair Thompson thanked Hearne for his time on the committee and applauded his service.

Discussion on Course Numbering Guidelines and on the 2-Year Rule:  POSTPONED

Adjournment 5:50 pm

Rose Marie Norton-Nader, Recorder, March 3, 2009




Voting Membership (term ending 2009)



Chair – Roger Thompson 2008-2009



A – Roger Anderson, Biology (SENATOR) rep to UPC



Vice Chair – James Hearne



A -  James Hearne, Computer Science, Vice Chair (4 yr)






A – Spencer Anthony-Cahill, Chemistry (SENATOR)



Ex Officio



D – Mark Kuntz, Theater



Provost Murphy  (v)



E – Yvonne Durham, Economics, CBE



Lisa Zuzarte (Catalog Coordinator) nv



G – Robin Matthews, Huxley



Susanna Yunker, Acting Registrar, nv



H –Marsha Riddle Buly,  Woodring,






Membership (term ending 2010)






B –  Billie Lindsey, PEHR, rep to GER Cte



Steven VanderStaay, VPUE



C – Roger Thompson, History, CHAIR



Kathleen Knutzen, Asst Dean, CHSS,



E -  Kristi Tyran, Management






F -  Julie Helling, Fairhaven






I –  (Jeff Purdue for ) Sylvia Tag, Library,






S -  Andrea Godard, ASVP-Academics, 2008-2009



Rose Marie Norton-Nader, Recorder



S -  Nikki Brown, AS



Members Present



S -  Brianne Kumar, AS



Recorder and Guests



S-   Shanai Lechtenberg, AS



TOTAL PRESENT   March 3, 2009



Members (18):    12 faculty (2yr terms) representing each area with 2 as Senators.  6 more members include:  Provost (nv), Catalog Coordinator (ex officio) and 4 students (1 ASVP).  ACC sends reps:  to UPC and to GER Cte.  Registrar & Recorder are permanent guests