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Standards 11 and 13
February 7th, 2011 by Joshua

As recorder, I (Dennis Jerz) will be posting notes from today’s discussion of Standards 11 and 13, which are grouped under chapter VII, “Offering Depth and Breadth.”

The working group for Standards 11 & 13, “Offering Depth and Breadth,” is charged by the Middle States Steering Committee to study and report on the academic rigor of the programs in the University and to study and report on the appropriateness of other educational programs and activities. This is relevant to demonstrating compliance with the Middle States Standards 11 and 13.

The meeting was held at 4pm in the Greensburg Annex.

An iPad was passed around so that attendees could add their names.

Leader James Paharik asked that the notes record comments anonymously.

Meeting called to order at 4:04, with a total of seven in attendance, including a mix of administrative staff and faculty. (Two more arrived within a few minutes.)

Paharik’s opening statement (as paraphrased by Jerz):

Middle States document criteria grouped a large number of items together, which made this group’s work somewhat challenging. A small reference in the Middle States documentation to “non-credit teaching” has great ramifications for SHU, because of the number of centers and the  variety of non-credit teaching we do.

Paharik’s opening questions to the group included a statement that, despite the workload, he is glad that SHU does program reviews. This group repeatedly referred to the work that had already been completed by program reviews. Everything we are doing is important to the program review.  A negative side involved there is a pattern that program reviews are taking longer to complete. Supposed to be completed within the course of one calendar year, but we see evidence that is regularly taking longer for the PR to get its work done. Paharik does not suspect we are not working hard enough on the PR process, but perhaps something might need to change structurally — either consider streamlining the PR process (which involves addressing about 90 items), or give one course of release time to PR chairs.

  1. Comment: Not all schools have this “soul-searching, navel-gazing, ad infinitum, micro-measuring of everything,” and a question was raised from the attendees whether Middle States would be enough, without program reviews. Appropriateness of having new hires take lead roles in the program reviews.
  2. Comment: Who is the audience for the program review? To an important extent, the provost.
  3. Comment: Impressed by the changes that came from PRs of the past, but the number of one-person departments and two-person departments suggests that there could be a more streamlined way of accomplishing the same result.
  4. Comment: The process of moving the PR through so many committees takes so much time, working with the external reviewer, and finding time in Faculty Senate meetings — that three semesters might be more realistic.
  5. Comment: Support for the one-semester course-release during the year the report is written. “I don’t know why the work has increased so much, but it really has for everybody.”
  6. Comment: Is the suggestion of dumping the whole thing off the table?
  7. Comment: Do a study of what other comparable institutions are doing.
  8. Comment: The structure does provide standardization, which is useful. “I’m afraid the assessment won’t go away, and something else worse will replace it.”
  9. Comment: One-person departments can use program review to justify hiring another person. “It’s just to get to that point is such a… [ominous pause].”
  10. Comment: PR is focused on assessing whether we are doing what we say we are doing.
  11. Comment: PR can be a chance to “implement a bunch of changes that we want to see” but when a program is stable, and there are not as many exciting changes, the PR can seem overdone.
  12. Comment: A two-tiered PR, where everyone does a basic review, but then if a program wants to expand or make major changes, the PR is more involved?
  13. Comment: Observation that PRs help programs evolve, but do all programs need that major review. Major review every 10 years, interim every 5?
  14. Comment: Course approval process — is that a duplication of this process?
  15. Comment: If it takes 2 years to do a review, then a 3 year break, “review fatigue is going to set in.”  Resentment builds for PR.
  16. Comment: The bar is raised in all our areas — the service load takes away from time you could have spent at conferences, publishing, learning new techniques of teaching.
  17. Comment: A two-tiered review; if nothing changes in 5 years, curriculum hasn’t changed, the field hasn’t changed, what is the benefit of re-contemplating our navels?  You would need to do a full reveiw every 10 years, but there should be an option to take an interim
  18. Comment: A benefit of a 10 year major review would be the major review would create a 10-year plan, and the 5-year review could be a checkpoint of that 10 year plan.
  19. Comment: Programs that have external accreditation may find the whole PR process redundant.
  20. Comment: Departmental reviews may face may of the same issues.
  21. Comment: Shift to non-credit offering issues, standard 13.
  22. Comment: How did CAPS program get into non-credit programs?
  23. Comment: Page 148, CAPS is identified as a source of non-credit courses for undergraduates; That section needs to be clarified, since CAPS does offer for-credit courses. Details were provided to the goals of CAPS — to improve the graduation rate. Persistence; academic standing; success in these areas.
  24. Comment: Some discussion of how the checklist provided by Middle States asks us to come up with research questions, but in this area the details included about CAPS did not fit well into the narrative.
  25. Comment: Is Middle States’s interest in “non-credit programs” intended to focus on offerings for students?
  26. Comment: Our focus that includes our centers gives us an opportunity to play to our strengths.
  27. Comment: Centers are mentioned in numerous places; any inaccuracies in the way centers or programs are depicted should be brought to the leader’s attention.
  28. Comment: Some non-credit math courses have been taken away; should these be mentioned? Is this the level of detail that Middle States would need? The change in math courses may have happened outside of the regular PR process.
  29. (Discussion of the changes in the placement of students in math courses may have come through Dean’s Council. Some discussion of the role remedial courses play; some discussion of the special role that probational GS courses play.)
  30. Comment: This group faced a steep learning curve regarding college in high school.
  31. Comment: “Study Away” was another challenging issue. SHU’s changes to J-Term and M-Term represent big institutional commitment, but the number of students participating has not been high. (J-Term 2010 very low; M-Term 2011 seems to be rebounding.) Is there more that the university can do do encourage study away?
  32. Comment: Faculty perspective — The preparatory work was exhausting; students expressed early interest, but without firm commitment from students, doing all that work “alone, going through all that with no help at all.. I d0n’t want to do it. And I find it crucial that students study overseas.”
  33. Comment: Students really have great difficulty predicting their financial situation that far in advance. That may keep students from participating. Some confusion as to whether a study away trip can count for core. Would more students go, if they knew it would count for core? “They don’t mark it in the book that this particular one counts for core, but it does…. I personally found it confusing.”
  34. Comment: lead time, clarity in marking the course in the catalog, and cost. Students keep saying they can’t afford it. “Do they have to come up with this money out of pocket?” (Answers: “Yes.”)
  35. Comment: There is a way that, if we can get student loan information to them earlier, they could be able to make their decisions earlier.
  36. Comment: Even with scholarships and underwriting; an anecdote about students with a cost of $2500 for a trip cut down to $500 remaining, and some students struggled even to meet that greatly discounted rate. Possibility of joining
  37. Comment: Joining forces with peer schools, sharing the faculty workload, swelling the numbers to help get better rates.
  38. Comment: Other schools have administrative staff, a study-abroad coordinator, etc. What do our peer schools do? The learning curve for an individual faculty who has never coordinated a trip before — a lot of redundancy in asking a faculty member to organize it alone, to run the program alone.
  39. Comment: Two faculty, and if possible, a male and female faculty member should be on every trip.
  40. Comment: Program review means programs on different cycles may all benefit from having outside help; what is the method by which a program that could demonstrate the need for a part-time travel coordinator, an administrative unit that could benefit from a travel coordinator, etc.  Programs and units are held responsible for the low numbers of participants, but faculty and staff who are not well versed in travel issues could use help/guidance.
  41. Comment: For some students, they’ve never been on an airplane. (One member of the group shared a story of a stressful first-time flight experience.) Suggestion: try local trips first, so that students gain experience with less cost.  Trips to Toronto, Belize… this could give students and parents more confidence.
  42. Comment: Old First Year Experience, Pittsburgh, DC, New York.
  43. Comment: Recommending a coordinator. That person should come out of Charmaine’s office.
  44. Comment: Program review of international students.
  45. Comment: Proper location for an international travel coordinator?
  46. Comment: Ask peer institutions how they deal with it; consider sharing a staff person across several institutions.
  47. Comment: Does Michelle get release time for her Study Away work?
  48. Comment: Anecdote about students reacting to availability of alcohol; discussion of solutions for how to manage student behavior.
  49. Comment: Doing a series of small trips and building up sounds like a good idea for those who are not experienced with travel; however students who are ready for international travel should be able to jump ahead, and not be forced to take baby trips.
  50. Comment: Money is available to help underwrite the cost of study abroad.
  51. Comment: The Magellan Project at W&J funds students who want to travel.
  52. Comment: We launched into this on the assumption that we could “do it on the cheap,” and on the assumption that there is a way to systemize this, so that students know clearly how to proceed.
  53. Comment: Our demographic tends not to have great resources for this sort of thing.
  54. Comment: Smaller trips could help.
  55. Comment: There is a systematic issue; a disconnect between the ambitious goals and absence of means.


3 Responses  
  • Liveblogging Injury — Jerz's Literacy Weblog writes:
    February 7th, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    […] Liveblogging Injury By Dennis G. Jerz, on February 7th, 2011 I threw a muscle in my shoulder while furiously blogging a record of a committee meeting. […]

  • James Paharik writes:
    February 9th, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I want to thank Dennis for the detailed recording of each comment, and the participants for their enthusiastic input. Just to clarify the structure beneath the flow of comments, the discussion began with a consideration of the program review process, then moved on to the section of the report that deals with basic skills and developmental education, then concluded with a discussion about how to promote study away.

  • Fran Leap writes:
    February 12th, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    This transcript was so thorough I felt like I was there.
    Thank you – sorry about the injury, though.


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