College of Arts and Sciences

Educational Policy Meeting

 

Minutes of the 402st Meeting

Thursday October 6th, 2005

 

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MEMBERS.

PRESENT:  Joe Burns, Christina Corea, Paul Davidovits, Andrea Defusco-Sullivan, Clare Dunsford, Michael Graf, Charles Landraitis, Michael Martin, Thomas McGuinness, Ourida Mostefai, James Najarian, William Petri, Joseph Quinn, Harry Rosser, Catherine Schneider, Susan Shell, Kelley Treseler, Barbara Viechnicki, Christopher Young.

ABSENT:  Lisa Cuklanz, Sr. Mary Daniel O'Keeffe, and David Quigley

 

CALL TO ORDER:  Dean Quinn called the meeting to order at 4:10 pm.

 

INTRODUCTIONS: The members introduced themselves. Joe Quinn welcomed the new members, James Najarian, Susan Shell, Charles Landraitis, Kelley Treseler, and ChrisYoung. 

 

MINUTES:  Minutes from May 9th, 2005 were approved with typographical corrections.

 

SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTS: 

 

Joe Quinn asked the past subcommittee representatives to describe their subcommittee’s activities last year.

 

HONORS.  Ourida Mostefai described the subcommittee’s work on grade compression stating that the report had been shipped to the departments with directions that it be distributed, discussed at a faculty meeting, and a report made back to the dean this October. She added that Dean Quinn, Kelli Armstrong, Director of Institutional Research, and Bob Murphy, the report’s original author, were designing a system for reporting grade information to departments and faculty.

 

Mostefai then outlined related issues the subcommittee wanted to address during the current year

  • how to distinguish between students’ performance in order to make the very best standout,
  • recommendations to raise the GPA requirements for departmental honors and distinctions,
  • the possibilities for listing honors and distinctions on student transcripts.

 

 

Paul Davidovits asked who was complaining and how B.C. could act unilaterally to lower grades without putting our students at a disadvantage in competing for graduate admissions or jobs. Ourida Mostefai replied that graduate admissions committees and other evaluators were finding the transcripts less valuable. Clare Dunsford stated that honors and distinctions could be listed on transcripts. Dean Quinn stated that some indication of the average grade in a course might be added to the transcript noting that this would present a problem in honors sections. Michael Graf asked if “rank in course” might be added to student transcripts.

 

Bill Petri asked if students wanted these distinctions to be made among students. Christina Corea replied students wanted to distinguish between various majors and departments but not within individual courses or sections. Christopher Young added this could produced “competitive griping” among students worried about rankings. Kelley Treseler added that students in the premed program needed these distinctions.

 

Dean Quinn stated that the compression of grades was severe noting that currently A and B grades comprised 85% of all grades given in Arts and Sciences and A and A- grades comprised nearly 50% of all grades. He also reiterated three questions to be addressed by the departments and the College:

  • Is this a problem?
  • What are the implications for honors designations and awards?
  • What, if anything could or should be done?

 

 

ACADEMIC AFFAIRS.  UGTA REPORT. Michael Graf described the subcommittee’s study on undergraduate teaching assistantships pointing out three policy recommendations

  • UGTAs should, in principle, be paid and not given course credit though the dean could approve 1-credit non-repeatable P/F internships or occasionally 3-credits where there is significant teaching experience involved
  • UGTAs should be used to grade student work only under a blind grading system and should sign an honors pledge
  • UGTAs should have advance standing and high GPAs in the field
  • UGTAs should receive training in tutoring practices and confidentiality awareness.

 

Susan Shell asked if the use of UGTAs was very common. Barbara Viechnicki stated that it varied by department noting that it is concentrated in departments with large undergraduate enrollments and few graduate students.

 

Dean Quinn summed up the issue by repeating two questions

  • Should the UGTAs exist?
  • How should they be compensated?

 

JEWISH STUDIES MINOR. Michael Graf reported that the subcommittee had recommended approving a new Jewish Studies minor noting there was excellent student demand. He stated there were still some technical issues to be worked out such as language requirement.

 

The EPC voted to approve the Jewish Studies minor leaving the Dean to handle the issue of the language requirement.

 

NEW BUSINESS.

 

Dean Quinn summed up the reports noting that the Honors Subcommittee would be considering 

  • recommendations for what if anything might be done to address the issue of grade compression,
  • what might be the implications for granting various college honors and departmental distinctions,
  • and what indicators of accomplishment or rank in course might be placed on transcripts

 

and that the Academic Affairs Subcommittee would

  • continue to follow up with the departments and the college on the UGTA report
  • be reviewing a proposal for a Catholic Studies program,
  • and might receive a proposal for an Ethnic Studies program.

 

He also noted that the EPC might be addressing the issue of waiving the language requirement or allowing course substitutions to fulfill the requirement for students with learning disabilities.

 

IN MEMORIAM.  The Arts and Sciences Educational Policy Committee paused to remember and to give thanks for the life, the career, the guidance and the friendship of J. Robert Barth, S.J., Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1988 to1999.

 

ADJOURNMENT.  Dean Quinn adjourned the meeting at 5:10 p.m.