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Meeting notes 4/1/2009
AOC Minutes, April 1, 2009
Submitted by Deborah Viles
Action items in bold
Present:, Lou McClelland, Michael Grant, Steve Jones, Terry Mayes, Deborah Viles, John Henderson, Rolf Norgaard, Ken Wilson, Greg Carey, Jane Curtis, Sam Fitch
Absent: Ronald Melicher, Gardiner Tucker, John Stevenson, Perry Sailor, Darna Dufour
- Happy April Fool’s day!
- Phil has charged the AOC with guiding assessment for the campus as a whole and also guiding VSA “value added testing” implementation and testing. The committee is also responsible for deciding how the assessment program will be presented both to Phil and to campus. The AOC is charged with determining and implementing the VSA required standard test, working with PBA. (PBA is responsible for other parts of the VSA, working with admissions, financial aid, Mike, and U communications.)
- Mike has discussed with Phil the notion that the VSA test is only a small part of our overall assessment plan. Our assessment of writing, primarily through the PWR’s ongoing assessment; critical thinking via the CAT instrument; individual unit assessment, ARP, and our campus surveys like the NSSE and senior survey, are the pillars of assessment on campus.
The committee, after examining and discussing each of the three approved VSA tests, recommended the CLA on the basis of its commitment to assessing complex thinking on the part of students, and also on the basis of its being the best tool for comparison purposes to other research universities. BFA was involved in this decision also, and Greg Carey will upate BFA.
Mike updated on an application for a Teagle (?) foundation grant, in cooperation with Colorado College, to use the CAT test in three types of courses, measuring before/after critical thinking capabilities. Types of courses:
- Those with critical thinking as a goal (typically meeting this component of the A&S core)
- Those emphasizing service learning, community engagement
- Those “skills” courses emphasizing neither – e.g., music, acting
- Mike updated the committee on progress in carrying out the committee’s recommendation that the deans be more involved in assessment. He offered to send representatives from the A&S dean’s office to an assessment conference, but Dean Gleeson declined. On the other hand, we learned that the A&S dean’s office, through Richard Nishikawa, approves all new (undergraduate?) courses including even those not in the core curriculum, and that an estimated 40-50% of initial applications for new courses are returned for revision.
Mike has also spoken to Nish about providing more information about core review for the accreditation self-study. Rolf mentioned that extensive minutes from core curriculum meetings are available, just not published on the web. Lou and the accreditation planning team had asked Nish and A&S curriculum committee chair Charles de Bartolome for an account of the core review, especially the why’s. Evidently Mike did also, and Joey White too, causing some confusion. Based on AOC discussion, Lou contacted Nish and de Bartolome 4/5 with the following request:
Since our exchange last week I've learned that Rolf Norgaard and others think that Robin Cantor's curriculum committee minutes (presumably from the last 3-4 years) would be an excellent and probably sufficient source of information on the ongoing core curriculum review. We would do the work of summarization, and would ensure that the minutes themselves are not made public if you so wish.
I'm not going to contact Robin directly because that would only add to the many requests on the table, and you'd have to decide about release anyway.
I hope this may make it easier on you, and quicker for us, and give us a rich set of information about the processes by which new courses apply for core inclusion, and courses already on the list are reviewed - and about the outcomes of those processes. We need summary info but also a few vivid examples, which can be presented so as to keep instructor and even course identity confidential.
Mike isn’t aware of progress on finding humanities units that are engaging in good practices to improve student learning. Darna wasn’t at the meeting to report out. But Mike now has access to the arts/humanities self-study questions for this year’s Academic Review and Planning cycle. Mike and Lou will get those for review.
- Mike reported that the outside firm hired to assess the CU101 program, OMNI, found more positive outcomes from this fall’s pilot classes. The classes were not mandatory, but self-selected. The mandatory nature of the courses in the last pilot was suspected of creating widespread anger in the participating students. Indeed, this year’s FCQs are much better. In addition, 6 faculty independent of the instructors read exams and papers and judged the course to have had a positive effect on students. The CU101 task force will soon be making a recommendation as to whether to continue the course. This is likely the last year the course will undergo such a thorough, outside assessment. In fall ’08 there were 5 sections of about 20 students each. Initial faculty reservations about granting credit for the course all evaporated when they reviewed the syllabus,
which is posted at
History as of July 06
Annual report – Yes, AOC is preparing an annual report! And documenting changes in charge, procedures decided upon in the last few months.
- Rolf introduced an assessment idea based on DU’s incentive program to promote writing in non-writing departments. Rolf suggested we might consider using a similar model for assessment rather than for writing. DU’s program provides monetary incentives for two faculty to research writing in their discipline and to publish a 10 page or so report on their findings. Rolf’s point was that if we could fund 5-10 projects a year, over time, we’d have some good research into assessment practices on campus.
In discussing the idea, some committee members suggested that a one time incentive was not enough to make the project worthwhile. Lou mentioned the Science Education Initiative, which is showing excellent results in improving student learning, but which also has a continuing, very large, budget and has widespread faculty involvement and support. The committee might look at what items from the SEI would be transferable. And how SEI departments differ from others – e.g., in portion of undergraduate SCH taught by tenured/tenure-track faculty. The SEI site and annual report is at http://www.colorado.edu/sei/
Other committee members thought that we might use such an incentive plan to coordinate with 2030 goals and that any effort might be worthwhile.
Given the current economic climate, the committee will not consider a formal proposal at this time.
Mike has a password protected link to the ARP assessment reports from the departments undergoing review this year. He will get the information to the committee as soon as he can.