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2008 - 12/04

UCAP Meeting of 12/04/2008


agenda status: approved


University Committee on Academic Policy
AGENDA (Approved with Additions)
Thursday, December 4, 2008
10:15 A.M. to 12:00 P.M.
Board Room, 4th Floor, Administration Building

    1. Approval of the Agenda

    2. Approval of the Minutes of the November 20, 2008 meeting

    3. Comments from the Chair

    4. Comments from the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education

    5. Course Repeat Policy - Discussion

    6. Chairperson's Update on UCAP Policy Proposals: Integrity of Scholarship and Grades and Religious Observance

    7. Roundtable

minutes status: approved

approved at meeting of 01/15/2009

UCAP Minutes for meeting held on 12/04/2008

University Committee on Academic Policy
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Board Room 4th Floor, Administration Building

Attendees: Dennis Banks, R. Sekhar Chivukula, Peter Cobbett, Marty Crimp, Doug Estry, Mandalyn Griffin, Richard Hallgren, Caroline Hartig, Linda Jackson, Carolyn Loeb, Brad McDonald, Matthew McKeon, Georgia Padonu (for Mary Jo Arndt), Jerry Punch, A. Mahdi Saeed, Michael Schechter, Sharif Shakrani, Thomas Volkening

Not Attending: Mary Jo Arndt, Chris Kline, Hovig Kouyoumdjian, Michael Lawrence, Parita Shah, Michael Shields, Jim Smith

The Agenda was approved with addition of Chairperson’s update on scholarship and grades and religious observance.

Minutes of the November 20, 2008 committee meeting were approved.

Comments from the Chair
Chairperson Chivukula stated that in a presentation of the financial forecast for the State and Nation at the ECAC meeting on Tuesday, December 2, the Provost reported the Governor was negotiating with the Michigan House and Senate on an executive order that would rescind a portion of state funding commitments. The projection was that there would be a 10% cut in the overall state budget over the next two years. Refer to for updates.

Comments from the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education
There were no comments from Associate Provost Estry.

Course Repeat Policy – Discussion
Chairperson Chivukula introduced guests Mary Black, Director of Institutional Research, and Patty Worso, Data Research Analyst, in the Office of Planning and Budgets (OPB). Associate Provost Estry distributed data from OPB regarding course repeats.

The committee unanimously granted voice to Mary Black and Patty Worso, who reviewed course repeat data analyses with the committee.

Dr. Estry requested that committee members would provide further direction on any additional data or information necessary to inform the committee’s review of the University Course Repeat Policy.

Committee discussion centered on the following questions:

    • Do transfer students have more difficulties as they enter the university? Would there be a significant difference in the number of course repeats if transfer students and students who have only attended MSU were compared?
    • Would similar data available from other Big 10 institutions to use for comparison?
    • How could we discern whether the 38.39% of students who repeated at least one course and graduated within the dates analyzed represents a problem at MSU? If so, what would be the best way to analyze available data to reveal more information? What does the percentage indicate about MSU academic standards?
    • Need for trend data that include detail regarding
          o differences by subject.
          o differences between courses taught by faculty and those taught by TA’s.
          o student failures resulting from health problems and other problems that, if found to be significant, could be addressed by the institution
          o the overall trend of repeats. Have course repeats increased or decreased over time? If so, can any of the change be linked to specific policy changes that may have either increased or decreased the number of course repeats over time (or found to have had no effect).
    • Was the data presented skewed by the fact that only students who graduated were considered in the analysis?
    • In the same time frame, how many students repeated courses and did not graduate from MSU?
    • At what level are most courses repeated, by academic year (FR, SO, JR, SR) vs course level (100, 200, 300, and 400)?
    • How do course repeat policy and the date at which a student can withdraw from a class without penalty interact? Some Big 10 schools allow withdrawal without penalty until the last day of class. How do we determine which policy is best for the student?
    • How could resource issues be measured-- such as numbers of students in a class, burden on instructors, additional cost to students, and possible delay of graduation date?
    • Are there specific student demographic characteristics that correlate with increasing repeat credits?
    • Is more qualitative data needed?
    • An in-depth analysis of a limited enrollment program would gather information regarding the number of repeats taken by students to succeed in getting into a competitive program.
Committee consensus was to continue to analyze course repeat data and to review class withdrawal dates in order to determine if any change is needed. Even if the committee would decide that no changes should be made to either, documentation of the process would be useful to understand the interaction, and in light of growing requests for increased GPA requirements in majors/limited enrollment programs. The committee would lay out a framework to guide thinking about these issues, leading to increased understanding of their impact on students and the university and as a model for future inquiries. Key questions to be answered are 1) do we have the right Course Repeat Policy, 2). is our policy doing a reasonable job of allowing students the opportunity to succeed without undue burden while maintaining academic standards, 3) where is the line between effective and ineffective policy?

Chairperson Chivukula suggested that a subcommittee be formed to work with OPB and the Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education to guide collection and analysis of further data. The Course Repeat Policy subcommittee members are Dennis Banks, Peter Cobbett, Brad McDonald, and A. Mahdi Saeed.

Chairperson's Update on UCAP Policy Proposals: Integrity of Scholarship and Grades (ISG) and Religious Observance
Chairperson Chivukula reported that the Integrity of Scholarship and Grades subcommittee would be meeting with University Ombudsman, Stan Soffin, after the committee meeting. Feedback from COGS on the proposed ISG policy is anticipated.

Professor Chivukula stated that he expects additional responses from academic governance committees on the proposed revision to the Religious Observance policy. Guided by the feedback, the committee should determine whether the proposed policy revision should go forward as is (policy with accompanying guidelines) or as a single document containing policy and guidelines. ASMSU’s response suggests the latter.

A new Religious Observance subcommittee was formed to integrate the recommendations received into a revised proposal for presentation to the committee. The committee will consist of Michael Schechter and Jim Smith. A student member will be added to the subcommittee as well.

No Roundtable items.

Meeting adjourned at 11:15 am

Respectfully submitted by
Sandra Walther