College of Arts and Sciences
Educational Policy Committee Meeting
CALL TO ORDER: Dean Quinn called the meeting to order at
MINUTES: Minutes for the meeting on
Most of the discussion centered on the question of whether or not undergraduate TAs could and should be used for grading. The subcommittee recommended that TAs only be allowed to grade objective homework and quizzes under a system of blind grading.
Solomon Friedberg noted in that in the Math Department, such a policy would result in significant changes in undergraduate math education. Homework is an important part of the learning process in math classes, but blind grading would be so cumbersome in large classes that professors might well stop assigning it or counting it as part of the grade.
Various practical solutions to the problem were discussed,
such as assigning each student a number to use on homework assignments. The discussion then turned to legal and
ethical issues. Bill Petri raised the
question of whether students should be put in the position of grading the
homework of friends and roommates.
Solomon Friedberg noted that this is usually not an issue in math
classes, since upper division students grade the homework of lower division
students. Paul Davidovits argued that we
would send the wrong message to our students if we suggested that we could not
trust our TAs not to cheat. Robert Scott
pointed out that privacy laws prohibited the posting of grades by name, social
security number and Eagle ID number;
they might also prohibit undergraduate grading.
Bill Petri noted that as a general rule we don't want to say that it's OK for undergraduates to grade, and that any such grading should be limited to homework. Eileen Sweeney said that the report could say that blind grading in principle is desirable, leaving practical solutions up to the departments. Even in the absence of any abuses, such a policy would relieve UGTAs of any possibility of pressure by peers to cheat.
Discussion then turned to the few courses that would have TAs earning credit. Tina Corea noted that in the Introduction to Feminisms course, TAs do considerable grading. She said that prohibiting the use of such TAs as graders would greatly change the role of TAs in the course. She also asked whether changing such courses to pass/fail would limit the number of students willing to act as TAs. Bill Petri argued that if students would only act as TAs if they could get an A for doing so, there is a problem with the course. Tom McGuinness asked whether or not faculty would resist the change to a pass/fail system of grading. Eileen Sweeney responded that the subcommittee did not ask faculty about this question, and that students gave a mixed response. Some said they wouldn't act as TAs under a pass/fail system.
Discussion then returned to the legality of having TAs grade
Eileen Sweeney then presented the proposal for a Jewish Studies Minor. She pointed to the importance of such a minor
One EPC member raised questions about courses that were not so obviously connected to Jewish Studies, and pointed to similar minors at other universities that have some additional structure as to which courses should be taken. A question was also raised about introductory Hebrew.
Carlos Jaramillo said that a language competency requirement would be a good thing, particularly in light of the oral component of Jewish tradition.
Ellen Sweeney responded that the proposed minor already had more structure than many of the existing minors because of the introductory and capstone courses, and that at least two courses would be offered per semester.
Paul Davidovits moved to approve the minor. Solomon Friedberg seconded the motion. He added that while the Jewish Studies faculty could set up a website to provide interested students with structured sequences of courses, there was no need to hold up approval of the minor.
Discussion then turned to the question of when EPC approval of the minor would go into effect. Could students begin taking courses for the minor before the introductory course was available, as happens with other minors?
Solomon Friedberg moved to call the question but his motion
was not seconded. Additional discussion
ensued. EPC members expresses concern
over the leadership of this minor as well as other interdisciplinary minors,
noting that leadership is always up in the air.
Acting secretary to the EPC