College of Arts and Sciences

Educational Policy Meeting

 

Minutes of the 395th Meeting

Thursday, November 17th, 2003

____________________________________________________

 

MEMBERS.

PRESENT:  Joe Burns, Michael Connolly, Paul Davidovits, Vincent Dimaggio, Clare Dunsford, Solomon Friedberg, Michael Martin, Gilda Morelli, Robert Murphy, Kristen Norgrove; Clare O'Connor, Mary Daniel O'Keeffe, O.P., William Petri, Jennie Purnell, David Quigley, Joseph Quinn, Grace Simmons, Eileen Sweeney, Barbara Viechnicki.

 

ABSENT:  Lisa Cuklanz, Andrea Defusco-Sullivan, Omar Gonzales, and Thomas McGuinness. 

 

CALL TO ORDER:  Dean Quinn called the meeting to order at 4:00 P.M.

 

MINUTES:  Minutes for October 9th 2003 were approved subject to corrections offered by Bob Murphy and Solomon Friedberg. 

 

 

SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTS.

 

Honors.  Bob Murphy reported that the subcommittee was in the process of gathering three kinds of information on the question of grade inflation:

  • Data concerning grades in the College of Arts and Sciences from the past 15 years had been requested from the Office of Student Services.
  • A questionnaire and cover letter to be sent out by the dean to peer institutions and to other Jesuit colleges asking for information on grades, grade inflation and concerns was being written.
  • Academic studies of grades and grading trends were being reviewed.

 

Murphy also stated he expected to have materials for a discussion of grade inflation at the February EPC meeting.

 

Academic Affairs.

 

Attendance:  Dean Quinn called on Grace Simmons, who raised the question of low attendance at Friday classes throughout the semester and at all classes held during Thanksgiving week,

  • noting that, in her experience, Friday and even Thursday afternoon attendance was always low
  • and asking if the faculty had any sense that low attendance was a problem.

 

Dean Quinn noted that:

  • A memo had been sent out to all A&S faculty stating that classes scheduled during the week of Thanksgiving should not be cancelled.
  • The Board of Chairs had discussed extending Thanksgiving break to a full week and making up the lost time by holding classes on Columbus Monday and beginning exam week on a Wednesday.

 

Jennie Purnell and Michael Connolly stated that Friday quizzes might solve any attendance problem. Clare Dunsford stated that making lecture notes available electronically hurts attendance. Michael Connolly stipulated that the issue was discipline specific and some courses might not require lecture attendance. Joe Burns added that large lecture courses frequently make notes available and that discussion sections were a different issue from lectures.

 

Dean Quinn noted that this may be an academic culture shift in which Fridays were fading out. He noted that sign-in sheets had been used to address the problem during the sixties. Bill Petri and Kristen Norgrove asked if attendance should affect grades. Gilda Morelli stated students made decisions as adults and should be held accountable. Michael Connolly, noting that there did seem to be a creep of Thursday night partying back into Wednesday, closed the discussion by asking if our students hunger for knowledge was exceeded by their thirst.

 

Academic Integrity: Eileen Sweeney reported the subcommittee had discussed whether the decision of the Academic Integrity Committee should be made binding rather than recommended stating the subcommittee did not favor such a change noting

  • grading was a faculty prerogative and not an administrative matter
  • and that such a change might chill reporting of integrity violations.

 

Sweeney offered three penalties proposed by the subcommittee – all of which left the faculty grading prerogative intact:

  1. The most popular with the subcommittee was expanding the penalties and tools available to the Academic Integrity Committee, e.g.

·        administrative withdrawal of student from course,

·        leaving the grade on the transcript while reducing the credits to “0”.

  1. Leaving the matter to the faculty members discretion on the first offense but making the AIC’s decision binding in the case of a student’s second offense.
  2. Creation of an administrative grade of “X” which would be a severe penalty if placed on the permanent transcript.

 

Sweeney also noted the subcommittee’s other concerns:

  • to establish case to case consistency and equity;
  • and to promote reporting of all cases to the AIC.

 

Dean Quinn, noting that there appeared to be two conflicting goals –

  • to established greater equity in the treatment of the reported cases
  • and to encourage the reporting of infractions by the faculty –

 

stated that the Academic Integrity Committee was designed to achieve the first but might make achieving the second more difficult. Joe Burns, noting that these were thoroughly good goals and allowing there would be no perfect solution, stated that the question was, “Where do we want to come down?”  Clare Dunsford added that it seemed the Subcommittee had returned to square “1” with the AIC’s decision being “recommended.

 

Joe Burns asked how the subcommittee would address the case where a faculty member wanted to give a grade of “F” for a course. Sweeney responded the subcommittee favored using an administrative “W” or a “P” to protect the student. Michael Martin asked what administrative grade of “X” meant. Sweeney stated it would be an administrative mark which would not change the faculty grade but replace it. Grace Simmons asked if a student could withdraw with a “W” to avoid a penalty. Joe Burns answered, “No.” Dean Quinn noted that the current “Dean’s File” on cheating cases was destroyed after five years but the “X” would be on the permanent transcript.

 

Paul Davidovits asked how many cases resulted in a disagreement between the faulty member and Academic Integrity Committee. Clare Dunsford stated that of the 20-30 cases brought to the committee per year only 1 or 2 resulted in such a conflict. Sol Friedberg asked how many cases went unreported. Clare Dunsford responded we could know and that it depended on the culture of the various departments. Clare O’Connor stated that the under reporting would be affected by the nature of assignments in the different disciplines. Bill Petri added that if reporting resulted in the faculty member’s possibly losing control of grading this would certainly chill reporting.

 

Gilda Morelli noted that in most of the cases reported the faculty acted without intervention. Jennie Purnell stated that 1 problem case per year didn’t appear to be a major hindrance to reporting.  Sol Friedberg added that this might be a chance for educating the faculty on the procedures and statistics which might alleviate fears about losing control.

 

Dean Quinn thanked the Academic Affairs Subcommittee for its work on the difficult issue and stated a report of this discussion could be forwarded to the AVP’s Advisory Council.

 

ADJOURNMENT.  Dean Quinn thanked everyone and adjourned the meeting at 5:05 P.M.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Michael C. Martin

Secretary to the EPC