Category 2A (Humanities) Review Summary – Liberal Arts Core Committee

Calendar Item: 
1051
Docket Number: 
949
Present such facts as are needed to establish the importance of the problem your petition addresses and to indicate its present status: 

Background:
The Category Review of 2A was completed during the 2006-2007 academic year. Due to various reasons the report was delayed from being forwarded to the LACC and the Faculty Senate. The report does include several recommendations which will help in the management and strengthening of the category.
A copy of the report is included along with the response of the LAC Committee, which highlights several significant issues that should be addressed. One part of the report which is not included are the course syllabi which are available for review in the LAC Coordinator office, and would be provided to anyone who requests them.

Clearly indicate the action you wish the Senate to take relative to your petition, beginning with the phrase, "Therefore, be it resolved....": 

The Liberal Arts Core Committee is asking that the Faculty Senate accept the report for the LAC Category 2A – Humanities.

LIBERAL ARTS CORE, CATEGORY 2A HUMANITIES I, II, AND III SIX-YEAR REVIEW REPORT Spring, 2006

LIBERAL ARTS CORE, CATEGORY 2A HUMANITIES I, II, AND III SIX-YEAR REVIEW REPORT Spring, 2006 Review Team Jerome P. Soneson Gregory Bruess Richard Utz 2 Table of Contents Introduction: History and Overview A: Subcategory Goals and Outcomes B: Extent Goals are Relevant to LAC, and have been Met C: Category Description D: Analysis of SOA Plan and Data E: Analysis of Enrollment, Faculty, and Department Data F: Liberal Arts Core Course Forms G: Executive Summary Appendices A. SOA B. Departmental Faculty teaching Humanities I, II, and III C. Data - Tenure/Tenure Track v. Adjunct Faculty D. Data – Departmental Distribution of Humanities E. Data – Number of Students in Small, Large & Super Sections F. Data – GPA Distribution 3 INTRODUCTION: HISTORY AND OVERVIEW The University of Northern Iowa’s Humanities sequence in the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum, Category 2a, is meant to provide students with a solid introduction to Western culture essential for nurturing well-educated citizens. These courses combine an historical narrative and analysis of key events, figures, ideas, and institutions with an examination of primary texts in the fields of literature, philosophy, religion and the arts. Because of their integration of a breadth of knowledge across many academic disciplines, and because of their traditionally rigorous academic demands, this sequence has often been called the “crown jewels of the Liberal Arts Core.” Students usually take these courses in their freshman year, and when they have successfully completed this sequence, they have moved beyond their high school attitudes, perspectives and skills to become genuine college students who are now able to compete successfully in a wide range of college courses. The Humanities-course sequence was created at UNI back in the 1950’s as an essential part of the General Education program and as a two-course sequence, both courses of which were four hours. The aim was to devote two hours a week to the study of history and the other two hours to the primary texts. The two-course sequence lasted up to the fall of 2004; at this time a threecourse sequence was instituted. For the sake of administrative efficiency (to reduce overall hours in the LAC program, to make room for each humanities teacher to teach one more course a year, and to make scheduling rooms much easier), each of these three courses has been reduced to three hours, and students are now required to take only two out of the three courses for their liberal arts program, reducing their exposure to the study of the humanities by two hours. We are currently in the second year of this new form of the humanities sequence. The Humanities Program has a web site that discusses, among other things, the philosophy of the humanities sequence. We think that the statement is helpful enough to quote in this context: The purpose and value of the humanities is ultimately to help us discover who we are. They help to form our intellectual, emotional, aesthetic, and spiritual capacities. They help us develop principles by which we make choices in our lives. The study of the humanities also seeks to uncover humankind’s continuing experience by engaging in a critical inquiry about events that have occurred, are occurring in the present, and are likely to occur in the future. Because the methods that we use to comprehend the past are similar to the skills we use to understand the present, the study of the humanities help us to recognize those elements of the past that continue to shape our present and future society. The achievements of humanity in pursuit of these ends can most readily be examined in the philosophical doctrines that civilizations have entertained, in the scientific theories they have devised, in the faiths they have held, in the institutions they have constructed, in the goods they have produced, in the art they have created, in the texts they have inscribed, and in the personalities they have developed. The Humanities courses are intended to help the student become more familiar with these attainments, and to examine them in the historical contexts from which they emerged. It is hoped 4 that students will share in a common experience that stimulates discussion amongst themselves outside as well as inside class. Over many years of faculty discussion, a set of guidelines has been developed on the basis of which faculty construct their syllabi. With the exception of individual faculty members who may be departing from this common reading list on an experimental basis, all sections of Humanities conform to these guidelines, which both promote the common goals of the course and allow instructors to employ their individual methods for reaching these goals. Some may stress literature, others history, arts, philosophy, and/or religion (http://www.uni.edu/humanities/Philosophy/Philosophy.htm). 5 SECTION A: Subcategory Goals and Outcomes The Humanities sequence is a subcategory of the larger Category 2 in our LAC program, called “Civilizations and Cultures.” This category includes both the Humanities sequence and the Non- Western Cultures program, and it has two broad goals: (1) to integrate “the areas of social science, humanities, and the fine arts” in the study of human cultures, and (2) “to promote an understanding and appreciation of the development, accomplishments, and failures of Western and non-Western civilizations” (http://www.uni.edu/vpaa/lac/purposecategory.shtml#2). The Humanities committee, open to all faculty who teach these courses, agreed last year (April 8, 2004) that the broad goals of the program are the following: The purpose of Humanities I, II, and III is to acquaint students with the history of the Western tradition as expressed in its literature, philosophy, religion, politics, arts, sciences, and technology. The study of core texts in their contexts is central to this process. We share the broader goals of the Liberals Arts Core, including the development of such core skills as reading, writing, and critical inquiry (http://www.uni.edu/humanities/). The Humanities sequence, more specifically, seeks to help students to understand the overarching story of Western culture in three particular ways: (1) by becoming familiar with key historical events, figures, and movements, as well as the historical methods appropriate to this kind of study at the college level; (2) by learning how to analyze the structure and themes of literary, philosophical and/or religious texts in their historical and cultural contexts, and to identify their enduring significance within the Western tradition; and (3) by becoming aware of the role and function of historical and/or cultural contexts at work in key documents or artistic productions (including political, economic and ideological climates) in the West. The Humanities faculty formulated outcomes for these courses, in relation to these goals, as follows: Students who complete Humanities I, II, and/or III should be able to: 1. explain the structure of a selected literary, religious, or philosophical work, the historical and/or cultural context in which it was written, and its significance within the Western tradition. 2. explain the historical and/or cultural context of selected documents or artistic works, within the Western tradition. 3. explain the causes of selected historical events, the course of those events, and their impact on the subsequent history of Western civilization. [Adopted 2/21/03] [Revised 4/8/04] (http://www.uni.edu/humanities/Goals/Goals.htm) 6 SECTION B: Extent Goals are Relevant to LAC, and have been met One reason that the Humanities sequence has been called the “crown jewels” of the LAC is that it introduces UNI students to all four of the realms (broad content areas) of the LAC: the social realm, the human realm, the natural realm, and the personal realm. In addition, of the five proficiencies of the LAC (communication, information, thinking, inter-personal, and quantitative), students are especially encouraged to develop the proficiency of critical thinking (see http://www.uni.edu/vpaa/lac/goals.shtml). In particular, students are introduced to “the realm of human beliefs, practices and institutions that constitute a culture of civilization,” and by doing so are encouraged to think critically about all ideas and values, and to develop tolerance for fundamental ideas and values other than their own. Moreover, they are introduced to critical reflection on the most influential primary texts in the West – literary and artistic, philosophical and religious. Furthermore, students are introduced to critical reflection on the history and methods of natural science – from the sciences of the ancient Mesopotamians to the most current discoveries in physics and biology. And finally, students are introduced to critical reflection on the nature and development of individual humans, their common characteristics, and the way that their culture (its institutions and ideologies) helps to shape who and what they are. Because so many of the humanities students at UNI are taught in large sections, there is little opportunity to help them develop the proficiencies of communication, information, inter-personal skills and quantitative skills). But the heart of a liberal arts education, the most important skill, is critical thinking, and these courses introduce students to this skill in all four realms of the LAC program. Please see “Appendix A” for the SOA plan and “Section D” for the results of the SOA procedures this past semester. 7 SECTION C: CATEGORY DESCRIPTION/STATEMENTS AND ANALYSIS OF SYLLABI The Humanities teaching faculty have agreed upon the following statement for the syllabi used in all humanities sections: The purpose of Humanities I, II, and III is to acquaint students with the history of the Western tradition as expressed in its literature, philosophy, religion, politics, arts, sciences, and technology. The study of core texts in their contexts is central to this process. We share the broader goals of the Liberal Arts Core, including the development of such core skills as reading, writing, and critical inquiry. The LAC committee formulated the following description of the Humanities sequence for in the context of the description of Cateory 2: The Civilizations and Cultures component of the Liberal Arts Core integrates the areas of social science, humanities, and the fine arts and should promote an understanding and appreciation of the development, accomplishments, and failures of Western and non- Western civilizations. To develop an understanding of our Western European heritage, students should be guided through the philosophy, religion, literature, and the fine arts of the great periods of civilization--ancient times, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Reformation to current times. The current catalog descriptions of the Humanities courses are as follows: Humanities I: The Ancient, Classical, and Medieval World. Literature, philosophy, religion, and the fine arts, integrated with the history of Western Civilization to 1300. Humanities II: The Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment. Literature, philosophy, religion, and the fine arts, integrated with the history of Western Civilization from 1300 to the French Revolution of 1789. Humanities III: The Age of Revolution to the Present. Literature, philosophy, religion, and the fine arts, integrated with the history of Western Civilization since the French Revolution of 1789. An analysis of current syllabi used in all sections of Humanities I, II, and III is instructive. An analysis of twenty-five syllabi used by nineteen faculty (from five academic departments) teaching Humanities I, II, or III during the 2005-2006 academic year indicates that there is widespread agreement among faculty as to the content and requirements of Humanities courses. However, since many syllabi only provide an outline of actual teaching and learning practices, the results of this analysis must remain preliminary. 8 1. Comparison of Catalog Description with Syllabi While there is much variety in how information is presented, all syllabi conform to the catalog description characterizing the Humanities sequence in the Liberal Arts Core. About one third of instructors actually quote the catalog description in some conspicuous place. Several others cite and discuss definitions adopted by the Humanities teaching faculty, define the word “liberal” in Liberal Arts Core, explain the role of the Humanities sequence within the Liberal Arts Core, or present their own definitions of the purposes, goals, objectives, and outcomes (all four terms are used) for the class. The space devoted to such descriptions ranges from concise statements of a few lines to page-long ones. Several syllabi do not make explicit statements, but these documents nevertheless appear to include the elements required in the catalog description. 2. Comparison of Stated Goals of the Humanities Sequence with Syllabi While syllabi clearly indicate the strengths and specialty areas of the faculty who teach them, all appear to provide an opportunity for the historical investigation of key events, figures, ideas, and institutions as well as the study and analysis of primary texts in the areas of literature, philosophy, religion, politics, the arts and sciences, and technology. The organization of most syllabi reveals that core texts are contextualized within the cultures and mentalities which produced them and to which they – in turn – contributed. 3. Consistency among Faculty Syllabi a. Recommended History Text All instructors appear to use one of the major textbooks outlining the historical development of “Western Civilization” recommended by the Humanities Faculty (Spielvogel, Western Civilization, is used by about half of all faculty). In some courses, the entire course is centered and organized around such a textbook; in others, the textbook seems less important and merely accompanies and contextualizes the readings and discussions of primary texts. b. Major Literary, Philosophical, Religious, Aesthetic Texts Instructors appear to follow the recommendations of the Humanities Faculty for the use of at least four major texts from a variety of areas. Most require that students purchase these texts in individual editions; some use anthologies. While the majority appears to read and discuss an average of four texts, several faculty require five, six, and even eight such texts. One instructor appears to make the reading of full-length major texts optional. c. Writing Requirements All syllabi require the completion of at least some form of written work. These requirements range from short, summary-like assignments, reports, journal entries, or handouts/bibliographies accompanying oral presentations through a six-page final paper or several three- to five-page opinion papers. Most syllabi also specify the use of essay questions on unit, mid-term, and final examinations. Instructors teaching larger sections tend to require less writing. 9 d. Organized Discussion Many syllabi do not specifically indicate how the required “Western civilization” textbook and the major texts are implemented in praxi. Grading procedures inclusive of class participation and stated goals/outcomes would indicate that most instructors place importance on discussion, group work, and participation. e. Grading Procedures An area of vast diversity, ranging from relatively simple/straightforward practices (4 unit exams plus one writing assignment and/or oral presentation, class participation) to highly sophisticated/complicated (required: 3 essay exams, 2 take-home essays, 9 worksheets, 10 quizzes, class participation, optional: up to 6 extra-credit reports, 1 final paper). What unites all these different efforts is the obvious desire among instructors to give opportunities to excel to as many different learner/test-taker types among students as possible. Recommendations: We affirm the diversity of approaches offered by the different faculty who teach this course, allowing them to draw upon their individual strengths while offering a course that includes critical reflection on both historical development and great cultural and artistic achievements. Unfortunately, because this course is taught by faculty in two different colleges and from at least 4 different departments, we recognize that the possibility of consistency in expectations, assignments, and grading is not realistic without having a unifying authority to encourage that consistency. That there is at least some serious diversity in these matters among the faculty warrants attention, and so we recommend that the Humanities teaching faculty at least discuss these issues, perhaps beginning with a discussion of their syllabi. 10 SECTION D: ANALYSIS OF SOA PLAN AND DATA 1. The major challenge confronting the Category 2a Review Team this review cycle has been to design a feasible Student Outcomes Assessment plan. The resulting tentative plan is located in Appendix A. It is still in the experimental stage and no definitive results can be expected. 2. Assessing students in the Humanities sequence is complicated by the fact that students are only required to take two of the three courses. Therefore, students must be assessed based on their correct sequential participation in Humanities I and II or II and III. Students who take the courses out of sequence will not be assessed. The purpose of the assessment instrument is to ascertain to what extent students have met the goals set forth by the Humanities faculty. The Humanities sequence, more specifically, seeks to help students to understand the overarching story of Western culture in three particular ways: (1) by becoming familiar with key historical events, figures, and movements, as well as the historical methods appropriate to this kind of study at the college level; (2) by learning how to analyze the structure and themes of literary, philosophical and/or religious texts in their historical and cultural contexts, and to identify their enduring significance within the Western tradition; and (3) by becoming aware of the role and function of historical and/or cultural contexts at work in key documents or artistic productions (including political, economic and ideological climates) in the West. 3. In an effort to assess students who have completed one of the two sequence alternatives, the Humanities faculty will use a set of essay questions that explicitly address the abovementioned goals. At the beginning of each spring semester, faculty members will identify students who have recently finished the preceding course in the sequence. The faculty members will then offer these students the opportunity to earn extra credit by answering a few essay questions relevant to the two courses at the end of the spring semester. 4. A committee of faculty members from Humanities I, II, and III will read and evaluate the essays from the sampled students. Faculty assessors will look for 1) an appreciation of the enduring significance of the structure and themes of literary, philosophical and/or religious texts in their historical and cultural contexts; 2) an awareness of the role and function of historical and/or cultural contexts at work in key documents or artistic productions; and 3) familiarity with key historical events, figures, and movements. In the interests of the determining what students learned in the Humanities sequence in the course of one academic year, the evaluators will use a matrix that controls for year in school and academic major. 5. The Humanities faculty will administer a student learning self-assessment with the essay as an indirect means of student outcomes assessment. 6. Over the next few years the Humanities Committee will continue to deliberate on both the SOA plan and its results. The Committee will study the data and determine how best to improve the category 2a instructional program and its assessment strategies and methodology. The Committee will need to evaluate the outcomes of several assessment cycles before making significant changes to the program. In the absence of significant new technological or 11 methodological breakthroughs, however, it would be unreasonable to expect or demand any evidence of steady “improvement” in student achievement. 7. In Spring 2006, Professor Bruess administered the direct and indirect assessments to his Humanities III section. The entire class (109 students) completed the indirect assessment and approximately half (52) also completed the direct assessments. Indirect Assessment: Of the 109 students who completed the assessment the following objective characteristics obtained: In which college are you a major? a. Social and Behavioral Sciences 24% b. Natural Sciences 18% c. Humanities and Fine Arts 17% d. Education 15% e. Business Administration 26% What year are you? a. Freshman 24% b. Sophomore 40% c. Junior 33% d. Senior 3% The results of the subjective questions were: 1. My intellectual curiosity was stimulated by the courses. 4% 43% 37% 16% Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal 2. I learned how to think more clearly about Western Civilization. 3% 36% 48% 13% Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal 3. These courses helped me to express myself more effectively. 26% 52% 18% 4% Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal 4. I learned to gather information relevant to world problems. 7% 36% 45% 12% Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal 5. I learned how to consider possible solutions to societal problems. 9% 43% 39% 10% Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal 12 6. I connected what I learned in these courses with my experiences in other courses or outside of school. 8% 27% 47% 26% Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal 7. I participated by listening, talking, and being prepared for class. 7% 47% 29% 17% Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal 8. My learning was aided by the instructors’ activities, materials, assignments, and presentations. 6% 33% 42% 19% Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal 9. I consider the Humanities sequence relevant to my future. 11% 39% 33% 17% Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal 10. The Humanities sequence is necessary for a well-rounded education. 5% 37% 34% 24% Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal The results are not particularly surprising. The only question which appears to stray from the norm is #3. The high percentage of “Not at All” most probably reflects the fact that the students were in a section of 114 and took four multiple-choice examinations and four fill-in-theblank quizzes during the semester. Therefore, written or oral expression skills were not developed. Direct Assessment: Nearly half the section (52 students) answered the essay question designed as a direct assessment of the sequence. The question was Select two books, works of art, or music, one from Humanities I or II and one from Humanities III, provide the approximate date (century, decade, or year) of their production, and explain how they can be considered representative of the respective eras of Western Civilization in which they were produced. The answers were evaluated on a scale of 0 to 4. Students earning a 0 were not able to name a book or work of art or music. Students earning a 1 were at least able to name a book or work of art or music. Students earning a 2 not only could name a book but demonstrated an ability to comment on its provenance. Students earning a 3 made specific comments about the work and its representative qualities. Students earning a 4 were capable of analyzing the book and its times as well as commenting on it within broader framework of Western Civilization. 13 The scoring was applied to each book. The minimum possible score was 0 and the maximum was 8. The actual recorded minimum score was 1 and the maximum was 8. The average score was 3.8. This suggests that, on average, students were able to name a book, a work of art or music, and to make a few germane comments concerning the date of its production and how it was representative of its era. The majority of students, of course, scored higher on the portion of the assessment dealing with Humanities III than with Humanities II (or in six instances, Humanities I). 14 SECTION E: ANALYSIS OF ENROLLMENT, FACULTY AND DEPARTMENT DATA 1. Colleges, Departments and Faculty. Faculty who teach these Humanities courses come from two colleges, the College of Humanities and Fine Arts and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. They also currently come from 6 different departments, but the overwhelming majority of faculty come from just 2 of these departments – the Department of History, and the Department of Philosophy and Religion. 2. Distribution of Numbers of Students taught by Tenure/Tenure Track (T/TT) and Non- Tenure/Tenure Track Faculty (see data and graph in Appendix C). The percentage of students taught by T/TT faculty has remained, for the most part, higher than the percentage of students taught by adjunct faculty who are not T/TT. During the last 14 semesters, in 4 of those semesters there was a higher percentage of students taught by non-T/TT faculty (over T/TT faculty), and 3 of those semesters the percentage of students taught by non- T/TT faculty was between 60 and 70%. Over the last 4 semesters the percentages have begun to even out, with students taught by T/TT faculty hovering between 55 and 60% and non-T/TT faculty holding steady between 40 and 45%. We recommend that the percentage of students taught by adjunct faculty be limited to 30% of the total students taught in Humanities I, II, and III in any given semester. 9. Numbers of Students taught by semesters (see data in Appendix D). Numbers of students taught each fall semester and each spring semester has remained relatively constant for the 5 years from Fall, 1998 to Spring, 2003. The fall numbers were always higher than the spring numbers – between 2273 and 2441 – while the spring numbers varied from 1962 to 2167. Then, for the last two years, the numbers have dropped considerably, with the fall semesters having 1983 and 1924 students and the spring semesters 1680 and 1566. One obvious reason there are fewer numbers of students in the spring semester than in the fall is that students who had a difficult time passing their fall Humanities course are reluctant to jump right back in and take another such course in the spring. Such students either wait until later in their college career to take their second required course, or they decide to take that course at one of the community colleges. By the fall of 2003, of course, the major cutbacks that have taken place over the last 5 years took their toll on the numbers of students UNI could accept, and this drop of overall numbers of students at UNI largely accounts for the major drop in student numbers in the Humanities courses. 4. Distribution of numbers of students taught in Humanities I and Humanities II each semester (see graphs in Appendix D). For the first 6 years of the 7-year period we are examining, UNI offered only 2 courses in the Humanities sequence – Humanities I and Humanities II. In the fall, an overwhelming majority of students took Humanities I (between 82 and 87%), and in the Spring the overwhelming majority took Humanities II (between 78 and 88%). There is not yet enough data on the new sequence (Humanities I, II and III) to identify any pattern at this time. 15 5. Backlog of students who have not yet satisfied their LAC requirements in the Humanities sequence (see Graph 7 in the Non-Western Cultures section of this report). For all but one semester over the last 14 semesters, the Humanities sequence has had the smallest backlog of three major LAC requirements – the Humanities, Non-Western Cultures, and Capstone. The backlog in the Humanities fluctuates from about 75 students to 150 students, compared to a fluctuation of between about 90 to about 310 for Non- Western and between about 190 and 730 for Capstone. 6. Distribution of Students Enrolled in Small (up to 41), Large (42 to 140), and Super (141-400) Sections (see data and graphs in Appendix D). Apart from one semester (Fall, 2004) the number of students who were in Super sections ranges from 12.04% to 30%, usually hovering around 25 to 28%. These are the extraordinarily large sections, and the Humanities teaching faculty has agreed that they deliver the poorest quality of education for our students, as students become anonymous in such sections; also, it undermines the joint venture of this enterprise, as the Humanities sequence comes to be identified with the faculty member who does that teaching, as so many UNI students take the course from that person. When the Humanities teaching faculty agreed to change the Humanities sequences from 2 4-hour courses to 3 3-hour courses (of which students only had to take 2), the provost at the time, Aaron Podelefsky, agree that in exchange we no longer had to teach courses with more than 120 students. We strongly recommend that the administration continues to respect and honor the agreement made with Aaron Podelefsky in Spring, 2004, that the Humanities courses will have only 2 sizes, small (about 35 students per section) and large (no more than 120 students). There is currently a proposal on the table that the LAC course, 620:005, College Reading and Writing, be folded into content courses, such as Humanities I, II, and III. This would require the teaching of writing to better than average students (students with an ACT score of 25 and above). We support this proposal, as long as the writing sections be voluntary and have no more than 25 students. We agree, therefore, to introduce a new sized section of 25 students for the purposes of intensive writing instruction. 7. Average GPA scores in Humanities sections. For the most part, the average GPA of all sections of Humanities I and Humanities II has remained constant over the past 7 years. The average for Humanities I has been 2.73, and the average for all sections has fluctuated from a low of 2.43 (Spring, 2003) to a high of 2.94. The average for Humanities II has been 2.89, and the average for all sections has fluctuated from a low of 2.68 (Fall, 2004) to a high of 3.21 (Spring, 2005). Although this last score, 3.21 (almost a “B+”), is very high, the next highest score is 3.00 (“B”), much closer to the overall average. We can conclude that over the last 7 years, the average score for all Humanities sections is between a “B-” and a “B.” This would seem rather reasonable and close to what would be expected given the overall context of grading at UNI. But close examination of GPA scores show that certain sections vary widely from this norm. The highest GPA for any one section of non-honors Humanities I is 3.48 (between a “B+” and an “A-”), and the lowest GPA for any one 16 section of Humanities I is 1.48 (between a “D+” and a “C-.” The stretch between the highest and lowest GPAs for any one section is 2 full grades – an extraordinarily long stretch. The highest GPA for any one section of a non-honors Humanities II is 3.64 (virtually “A-”), and the lowest GPA for any one section of Humanities II is 1.95 (virtually “C”), a stretch of almost 2 full grades between the lowest and highest. A cursory glance at the graphs that depict the overall average GPA, the highest GPA in a nonhonors section, and the lowest GPA in one section for each semester over 14 semesters shows how wide of the overall average the GPA of some sections are (see Appendix E). There may be many reasons for the wide spread between the highest GPAs and the lowest GPAs for each semester, but one reason for this spread is not that the highest GPAs are from honors sections. Honors sections understandably will have higher than average GPAs. Some faculty might claim that they attract better students, if they have high GPAs in their section, and other faculty might complain that they get lower than average students if the GPAs of their sections are lower than average. There might be some truth in this. But if some teachers give higher than average GPAs and other faculty lower than average, there are some clear consequences that follow. First of all, those who have higher than average GPAs will, for the most part, have happier students who no doubt will reward their instructor for their “kindness,” but this student happiness is parasitic on Humanities sections that give lower GPAs, causing at least some frustration and unhappiness on the part of other students, especially those who are in sections that have the lowest GPAs, which will be interpreted by those students as “unfairness.” Secondly, the process by which students end up in particular sections is often arbitrary, and so when they end up in a section taught by a teacher who routinely gives lower than average GPAs, they take this as an example of injustice in the system. Students often pick sections not because of what they have heard about the teacher or about the demands of the course but because “it fits into my schedule” or “my advisor told me to take this section.” This would not be a problem if all courses had relatively similar GPAs, but since they don’t, the students who fall by accident into the courses which give the lowest GPAs feel as though they have been mistreated by the university or by the teacher, perhaps even “punished” for not having gathered information about the section before signing up. This injustice, of course, is felt at the expense of other sections in which their roommates and friends are getting a higher GPA and so feel “more lucky.” In short, this wide distribution of GPAs among different sections generates a fortuitous happiness for some students and an undermining of morale for others, both of which undermines the educational enterprise. Because of this, we recommend that the Humanities teaching faculty discuss grades and reasons for, and the consequences of, excessively high and excessively low section GPAs. We suggest they formulate guidelines for grading by considering both the rigor of assignments and a possible normative range within which their section GPA would appropriately fall. We accept and honor academic freedom in teaching, but we also realize that we are in a common or joint venture – we share this program together – and so the actions of any one faculty member has consequences for the other faculty members, for the reputation of the whole Humanities program, and for the morale of that portion of the student body enrolled in our program. And it is because these matters that we recommend that the Humanities teaching faculty discuss these important issues in a systematic way. 17 SECTION F: LIBERAL ARTS CORE COURSE FORMS LAC Course Review Questions Humanities I, II, and III (Since the answers are the same for each course, we will answer the questions on one form) COURSE NUMBER AND TITLE: 680:021/022/023, Humanities I, II, and III COURSE DESCRIPTIONS: Humanities I: The Ancient, Classical, and Medieval World. Literature, philosophy, religion, and the fine arts, integrated with the history of Western Civilization to 1300. Humanities II: The Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment. Literature, philosophy, religion, and the fine arts, integrated with the history of Western Civilization from 1300 to the French Revolution of 1789. Humanities III: The Age of Revolution to the Present. Literature, philosophy, religion, and the fine arts, integrated with the history of Western Civilization since the French Revolution of 1789. CREDIT HOURS: 3 for each LIBERAL ARTS CORE CATEGORY: 2A 1. Does the catalog description reflect the courses as they are currently delivered? YES Are changes in the catalog description or course content needed? NO 2. In what ways do these courses serve the purposes of this category? These courses provide an introduction to the history and culture of the West, integrating the study of primary texts – in philosophy, religion, literature, and the fine arts – into the study of the history of Western culture. 3. Since the last category review, have changes in the relative emphasis of content areas been made? If so, identify the changes. While the content and methods of these courses has remained the same, we have changed the 2-course sequence of 8 required hours for students (4 credits per course) to a 3-course sequence of only 6 required hours (3 credits per course, but students are required to take only 2 out of the 3 courses). 4. If multiple sections are offered, how is comparability of content and grading across sections assessed and insured? Since its beginning back in the 1950s, each section is supposed to spend one-half of the time on traditional history and one-half of the time on primary texts. Furthermore, there is a common reading list for each course from which the teachers of each section are to draw at least one history text and 4 primary texts. But there is no current means for assessing and insuring that faculty abide by these agreed-upon guidelines. Furthermore, the vast difference in the grades that are offered by different faculty in different sections indicates that there are no common grading standards across the sections. 18 5. What are the primary instructional methods used in the course? What type(s) of student activities are included in the course? For all but one instructor of the large sections (120 students or more), the method of instruction, for the most part, is lecture, with occasional films being offered; the other large-section instructor offers, for the most part, small group discussion and small group presentations. For most of the smaller sections (around 35), the instructors combine lecture with group discussions and writing assignments, in addition to occasional films. 6. In what ways does this course help students develop the Liberal Arts Core proficiencies? Students are introduced to the basic content and methods of the “Social Realm,” the “Realm of Human Creations,” the “Natural Realm,” and the “Personal Realm,” all four of the realms studied in the LAC, and, of the five LAC proficiencies (communication, information, thinking, inter-personal, and quantitative), students are especially encouraged to develop the proficiency of critical thinking (see http://www.uni.edu/vpaa/lac/goals.shtml). In particular, students are introduced to “the realm of human beliefs, practices and institutions that constitute a culture of civilization,” and by doing so are encouraged to think critically about all ideas and values, and to develop tolerance for fundamental ideas and values other than their own. Moreover, they are introduced to critical reflection on the most influential primary texts in the West – literary and artistic, philosophical and religious. Furthermore, students are introduced to critical reflection on the history and methods of natural science – from the sciences of the ancient Mesopotamians to the most current discoveries in physics and biology. And finally, students are introduced to critical reflection on the nature and development of individual humans, their common characteristics, and the way that their culture (its institutions and ideologies) helps to shape who and what they are. 7. How is student achievement of course objectives assessed? Almost all instructors use quizzes and multiple-choice exams and some sort of writing projects, and a number of the smaller sections assign and assess participation in group discussion and the quality of student writing and thinking. 8a. What are considered the major strengths of these courses? Because of their wide interdisciplinary structure, these courses function as an introduction to the Liberal Arts Core and to the college experience as a whole. Above all, they allow students to become familiar with the wide sweep of Western culture and its creative products, and so they give our students a common story which forms a common framework for further college courses. In addition, they introduce students to the methods and significance of critical reflection at the college level and so form a foundation upon which they can continue to develop their proficiency in critical thinking. 8b. What are the major weaknesses, and what changes, if any, are needed? a. There is the problem of a wide range of grades offered in the different sections of this course. We recommend that the heads and faculty meet to discuss openly the pros and cons of various methods of grading these sections and then formulate general guidelines for grading. 19 b. Students can easily escape writing assignments and participation in discussion by deliberately signing up for the large sections, and so these students do not get introduced to the LAC proficiencies of communication and information management. We recommend that students must take one of their two courses in a small section, and that all small sections offer both discussion and writing. c. Because of articulation agreements with community colleges, some students with an AA degree are able to avoid any exposure to the history and culture of the West, and many students can avoid the rigor of UNI’s humanities courses by going to community colleges, especially by taking 8-day mini-courses in place of our courses. We recommend that heads and faculty meet to discuss, evaluate, and construct alternative articulation agreements with community colleges in relation to the humanities requirements of the LAC program, so that students who graduate from UNI will have had an adequate critical exposure to Western civilization and its culture. 9. Additional faculty, head, and/or dean concerns and comments. 20 SECTION G: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY We continue to respect and affirm the Humanities sequence as the “crown jewels” of the LAC, for this sequence introduces students to all four realms of the LAC, and it not only plays an instrumental role in the transformation of high school students into college students, but it provides them with the common story of the West which students can use as an intellectual framework for doing other college work. We also affirm the diversity of approaches offered by the different faculty who teach this course, allowing them to draw upon their individual strengths while offering a course that includes critical reflection on both historical development and great cultural and artistic achievements. Nevertheless, there are recommendations we would like to offer in order to make a very good program even better. 1. Because this course is taught by faculty in two different colleges and from at least 4 different departments, we recognize that the possibility of consistency in expectations, assignments, and grading is not realistic without having a unifying authority to encourage that consistency. That there is at least some serious diversity in these matters among the faculty warrants attention, and so we recommend that the Humanities teaching faculty discuss these issues, perhaps beginning with a discussion of their syllabi. 2. We recommend that the percentage of students taught by adjunct faculty be limited to 30% of the total students taught in Humanities I, II, and III in any given semester. 3. We strongly recommend that the administration continues to respect and honor the agreement made with Aaron Podelefsky in Spring, 2004, that the Humanities courses will have only 2 sizes, small (about 35 students per section) and large (no more than 120 students). 4. There is currently a proposal on the table that the LAC course, 620:005, College Reading and Writing, be folded into content courses, such as Humanities I, II, and III. This would require the teaching of writing to better than average students (students with an ACT score of 25 and above). We support this proposal, as long as the writing sections be voluntary and have no more than 25 students. We recommend, therefore, that we introduce a new section, limited to 25 students, for the purposes of including intensive writing instruction (which is to be guided by the writing requirements formulated by the Department of English). 5. We recommend that the Humanities teaching faculty discuss grades and reasons for, and the consequences of, excessively high and excessively low section GPAs. We suggest they formulate guidelines for grading by considering both the rigor of assignments and a possible normative range within which their section GPA would appropriately fall. We accept and honor academic freedom in teaching, but we also realize that we are in a common or joint venture – we share this program together – and so the actions of any one faculty member has consequences for the other faculty members, for the reputation of the whole Humanities program, and for the morale of that portion of the student body enrolled in our program. Because of these matters, we recommend that the Humanities teaching faculty discuss grading in a systematic way. We also recommend that the heads and faculty meet together to discuss openly the pros and cons of various methods of grading these sections and then formulate general guidelines for grading. 21 6. Students can easily escape writing assignments and participation in discussion by deliberately signing up for the large sections, and so these students do not get introduced to the LAC proficiencies of communication and information management. We recommend that students must take one of their two courses in a small section, and that all small sections offer both discussion and writing. 7. Because of articulation agreements with community colleges, some students with an AA degree are able to avoid any exposure to the history and culture of the West. This was discovered by one of the authors of this report when a student with an AA degree from a community college was interested in majoring in Humanities but had no exposure to the culture of the West, and said she didn’t have to take courses in the sequence because he had this degree. Also, many students avoid the traditional rigor of UNI’s Humanities courses by going to community colleges to take these courses which often have considerably lower student expectations; the most problematic of community college Humanities courses are the 8-day minicourses that are now offered. Because of these problems, we recommend that heads and faculty meet to discuss, evaluate, and construct alternative articulation agreements with community colleges in relation to the Humanities requirements of the LAC program, so that students who graduate from UNI will have had an adequate critical exposure to Western civilization and its culture. 8. Because of difficulties in getting faculty who teach Humanities to participate in writing this report, in working on the SOA procedures for the Humanities sequence, and in discussions having to do with consistency in expectations, assignments and grading, we recommend that serious consideration be given to locating the responsibility for the Humanities sequence within one college and in one department. 22 APPENDIX A STUDENT OUTCOMES ASSESSMENT PLAN LIBERAL ARTS CORE, CATEGORY II A, HUMANITIES I, II, AND III UNIVERISTY OF NORTHERN IOWA Assessment Philosophy and Course Goals The purpose of the assessment instrument is to ascertain to what extent students have met the goals set forth by the Humanities faculty. The Humanities sequence seeks to help students to understand the overarching story of Western culture in three particular ways: (1) by becoming familiar with key historical events, figures, and movements, as well as the historical methods appropriate to this kind of study at the college level; (2) by learning how to analyze the structure and themes of literary, philosophical and/or religious texts in their historical and cultural contexts, and to identify their enduring significance within the Western tradition; and (3) by becoming aware of the role and function of historical and/or cultural contexts at work in key documents or artistic productions (including political, economic and ideological climates) in the West. Assessment Methods and Frequency Assessing students in the Humanities sequence is complicated by the fact that students are only required to take two of the three courses. Therefore, students must be assessed based on their correct sequential participation in Humanities I and II or II and III. Students who take the courses out of sequence will not be assessed. In an effort to assess students who have completed one of the two sequence alternatives, the Humanities faculty will use a set of essay questions that explicitly address the abovementioned goals. At the beginning of each spring semester, faculty members will identify students who have recently finished the preceding course in the sequence. The faculty members will then offer these students the opportunity to earn extra credit by answering a few essay questions relevant to the two courses at the end of the spring semester The Humanities faculty will administer a student learning self-assessment with the essay as an indirect means of student outcomes assessment. Evaluation and Interpretation Results A committee of faculty members from Humanities I, II, and III will read and evaluate the essays from the sampled students. Faculty assessors will look for 1) an appreciation of the enduring significance of the structure and themes of literary, philosophical and/or religious texts in their historical and cultural contexts; 2) an awareness of the role and function of historical and/or cultural contexts at work in key documents or artistic productions; and 3) familiarity with key historical events, figures, and movements. In the interests of the determining what students learned in the Humanities sequence in the course of one academic year, the evaluators will use a matrix that controls for year in school and academic major. 23 Direct Assessment: Select two books, works of art, or music, one from Humanities I or II and one from Humanities III, provide the approximate date (century, decade, or year) of their production, and explain how they can be considered representative of the respective eras of Western Civilization in which they were produced. Indirect Assessment: Student Learning Self-Assessment Please answer these questions as they relate to the Humanities courses you took using the number scale. 1. My intellectual curiosity was stimulated by the courses. 0 1 2 3 Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal 2. I learned how to think more clearly about Western Civilization. 0 1 2 3 Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal 3. These courses helped me to express myself more effectively. 0 1 2 3 Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal 4. I learned to gather information relevant to world problems. 0 1 2 3 Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal 5. I learned how to consider possible solutions to societal problems. 0 1 2 3 Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal 6. I connected what I learned in these courses with my experiences in other courses or outside of school. 0 1 2 3 Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal 7. I participated by listening, talking, and being prepared for class. 0 1 2 3 Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal 8. My learning was aided by the instructors’ activities, materials, assignments, and presentations. 24 0 1 2 3 Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal 9. I consider the Humanities sequence relevant to my future. 0 1 2 3 Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal 10. The Humanities sequence is necessary for a well-rounded education. 0 1 2 3 Not at All Somewhat Quite a Bit A Great Deal 11. Did you have any trouble enrolling in the sections of your choice? a. a lot of trouble b. a little trouble c. no trouble at all 12. In which college are you a major? a. Social and Behavioral Sciences b. Natural Sciences c. Humanities and Fine Arts d. Education e. Business Administration 13. What year are you? a. Freshman b. Sophomore c. Junior d. Senior 25 APPENDIX B Departmental Faculty teaching Humanities I, II, and III Tenure/Tenure Track and non-Tenure/Tenure Track Department of History (College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, SBS) Tenure/Tenure Track Greg Bruess Robert Dise Sara Kimble Jay Lees Donna Maier Konrad Sadkowski Don Shepardson Charlotte Wells Non-Tenure/Tenure Track John Higdon Ken Lyftogt Dept of Philosophy and Religion (College of Humanities and Fine Arts, CHFA) Tenure/Tenure Track Ken Atkinson Ed Boedeker Susan Hill Margaret Holland Reza Lahroodi James Robinson Jerry Soneson Non-Tenure/Tenure Track Mike Prahl Tom Sandberg Bob Schnucker Department of English Language and Literature (CHFA) Tenure/Tenure Track Richard Utz Department of Modern Languages (CHFA) Tenure/Tenure Track Sonia Yetter 26 Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology (SBS) Tenure/Tenure Track Julie Lowell Department of Political Science (SBS) Non-Tenure/Tenure Track David K. Moore 27 APPENDIX C Tenured/Tenure Track v. Adjunct Faculty F 98 S 99 F 99 S 00 F 00 S 01 F 01 S 02 TTT H I 1304 88 1498 230 562 291 923 251 TTT H II 184 1017 95 1368 276 914 256 872 TTT H III Total TTT 1488 1105 1593 1598 838 1205 1179 1123 % TTT 62.89 56.32 67.96 73.98 36.07 55.45 48.40 51.44 non-TTT H I 627 265 547 55 1389 0 1151 0 non-TTT H II 251 592 204 507 96 968 106 1060 non-TTT H III Total non-TTT 878 857 751 562 1485 968 1257 1060 % non-TTT 37.11 43.68 32.04 26.02 63.93 44.55 51.60 48.56 F02 S 03 F 03 S04 F 04 S 05 TTT H I 553 265 877 193 470 160 TTT H II 190 486 315 739 509 370 TTT H III 231 501 Total TTT 743 751 1192 932 1210 1031 % TTT 32.11 36.71 59.22 54.99 58.91 59.87 non-TTT H I 1462 23 786 174 580 108 non-TTT H II 109 1272 35 589 243 136 non-TTT H III 21 447 Total non-TTT 1571 1295 821 763 844 691 % non-TTT 67.89 63.29 40.78 45.01 41.09 40.13 28 Percentage of Students Taught by Tenured/Tenure-Track vs Adjunct 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 F 98 S 99 F 99 S 00 F 00 S 01 F 01 S 02 F02 S 03 F 03 S04 F 04 S 05 Semester Percentage % TTT % non-TTT 29 APPENDIX D Number of Faculty Teaching Humanities From Various Departments: Tenure-Tenure Track and Non-Tenure In Different Sized Sections: Small, Large, and Super F 98 S 99 F 99 S 00 F 00 S 01 F 01 S 02 F02 S 03 F 03 S04 F 04 S 05 History TTT Small 3 4 3 4 5 3 4 6 5 6 5 6 8 8 TTT Large 7 6 4 5 4 6 5 5 4 4 3 4 4 1 TTT Super 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 non-T Sm 6 6 5 4 4 3 5 2 2 3 1 3 1 2 non-T Lg 0 1 1 3 1 2 1 2 3 2 3 1 3 2 P & R TTT Small 3 3 6 6 7 4 4 4 3 3 6 5 4 5 TTT Large 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 2 0 1 1 TTT Super 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 non-T Sm 2 2 5 2 1 2 1 1 1 3 0 0 3 3 non-T Lg 3 3 2 3 5 3 5 4 5 3 0 2 3 3 English TTT Small 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 TTT Large 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 TTT Super 2 2 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Non-T Sm 1 2 2 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 Non-T Lg 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 Non-T Sp 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 1 2 2 2 1 0 0 Mod Lang TTT Small 1 2 2 2 3 4 2 3 1 1 0 0 1 0 TTT Large 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Other TTT Small 2 0 2 0 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 2 Non-T Sm 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 30 Percentage of Students By Department 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% fa 98 sp 99 fa 99 sp 00 fa 00 sp 01 fa 01 sp 02 fa 02 sp 03 fa 03 sp 04 fa 04 sp 05 Semester Eng Hist ModL P&R SAC Other 31 APPENDIX E Numbers of Students in Different Sized Sections of Humanities I, II, and III F 98 S 99 F 99 S 00 F 00 S 01 F 01 S 02 F02 S 03 F 03 S04 F 04 S 05 Small I 539 187 714 162 436 174 417 142 214 56 226 131 324 258 Large I 704 166 607 123 909 118 944 119 1227 232 831 236 691 0 Super I 689 0 661 0 688 0 703 0 533 0 570 0 691 0 Small II 194 425 180 421 288 404 199 453 178 347 234 365 144 118 Large II 241 772 120 804 120 1192 163 1186 121 862 122 593 608 242 Super II 0 412 0 647 0 261 0 267 0 517 0 355 0 0 Small III 163 131 Large III 0 447 Super III 0 370 Total Small 733 612 894 583 724 578 616 595 392 403 460 496 631 507 Total Large 945 938 727 927 1029 1310 1107 1305 1348 1094 953 829 1299 689 Total Super 689 412 661 647 688 261 703 267 533 517 570 355 691 370 Total in H I 1932 353 1982 285 2033 292 2064 261 1974 288 1627 367 1706 258 Total in H II 435 1609 300 1872 408 1857 362 1906 299 1726 356 1313 752 360 Total in H III 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 163 948 Total Student 2367 1962 2282 2157 2441 2149 2426 2167 2273 2014 1983 1680 2621 1566 32 Size Distribution of All Sections of Humanities 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% F 98 S 99 F 99 S 00 F 00 S 01 F 01 S 02 F02 S 03 F 03 S04 F 04 S 05 Semester Percentage of Students % in Super % in Large % in Small Distribution of Students Amongst H I, HII and HIII 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% F 98 S 99 F 99 S 00 F 00 S 01 F 01 S 02 F02 S 03 F 03 S04 F 04 S 05 Semester Percentage of Students % in H III % in H II % in H I 33 APPENDIX F GPAs of Humanities sections by semester: average GPA for all sections, highest section GPA, and lowest section GPA F 98 S 99 F 99 S 00 F 00 S 01 F 01 S 02 H I GPA 2.81 2.94 2.90 2.74 2.83 2.70 2.79 2.72 H I Highest GPA 3.23 3.68 3.43 3.08 3.48 3.36 3.49 3.06 H I Lowest GPA 2.20 2.45 2.27 2.39 2.15 1.89 2.19 2.33 Highest - Lowest GPA 1.03 1.23 1.16 0.69 1.33 1.47 1.30 0.73 H II GPA 2.97 2.87 3.00 2.77 3.00 2.96 2.78 2.76 H II Highest GPA 3.44 3.43 3.28 3.64 3.52 3.61 3.45 3.49 H II Lowest GPA 2.39 2.35 2.74 2.22 2.54 2.06 2.52 2.09 Highest - Lowest GPA 1.05 1.08 0.54 1.42 0.98 1.55 0.93 1.40 F02 S 03 F 03 S04 F 04 S 05 H I GPA 2.72 2.43 2.71 2.47 2.84 2.6 H I Highest GPA 3.60 2.79 3.18 3.01 3.23 3.24 H I Lowest GPA 1.81 2.22 1.97 2.04 2.43 1.48 Highest - Lowest GPA 1.25 0.57 1.21 0.97 0.80 1.76 H II GPA 2.89 2.86 2.80 2.91 2.68 3.21 H II Highest GPA 3.11 3.42 3.22 3.35 3.30 3.57 H II Lowest GPA 2.70 2.17 2.51 2.54 1.95 2.66 Highest - Lowest GPA 0.41 1.25 0.71 0.81 1.35 0.91 H III GPA 2.75 2.83 H III Highest GPA 2.95 3.26 H III Lowest GPA 2.40 2.32 Highest - Lowest GPA 0.55 0.94 GPA over last 7 years (F98 – S 05) Avg GPA for H I 2.73 Avg High GPA for H I 3.24 Avg Low GPA for H I 2.13 Avg GPA for H II 2.89 Avg High GPA for H II 3.42 Avg Low GPA for H II 2.39 34 GPA by Semester (H I) 0.00 0.50 1.00 1.50 2.00 2.50 3.00 3.50 4.00 F 98 S 99 F 99 S 00 F 00 S 01 F 01 S 02 F 02 S 03 F 03 S 04 F 04 S 05 Semester GPA H I GPA H I Highest GPA H I Lowest GPA GPA by Semester (H II) 0.00 0.50 1.00 1.50 2.00 2.50 3.00 3.50 4.00 F 98 S 99 F 99 S 00 F 00 S 01 F 01 S 02 F 02 S 03 F 03 S 04 F 04 S 05 Semester GPA H II GPA H II Highest GPA H II Lowest GPA

a summary of the key issues raised by the Category 2A Review that the LACC would like to bring to the Senate’s attention

TO: University Faculty Senate FROM: Liberal Arts Core Committee SUBJECT: Category 2A (Humanities) Review Summary DATE: September 1, 2010 The Liberal Arts Core Committee (LACC) discussed and accepted the Category 2A Review Report during the April 2, 2010 LACC meeting. The following is a summary of the key issues raised by the Category 2A Review that the LACC would like to bring to the Senate’s attention While the review notes that the Humanities may be viewed as the “Crown jewel of the Liberal Arts Core”, there are some issues that may tarnish this image. Most notably is the lack of a strong administrative structure to ensure consistency across different sections of the three courses in this category. Faculty from two different colleges and various departments are not brought together on a regular basis to discuss issues of concern. These issues include – Grading consistency Course evaluation measures (essays, discussion, multiple choice tests, etc) across sections of similar sizes Student Outcomes Assessment participation and utilization of the results of SOA measures Limiting the instruction of non-tenured instructors Limiting class sizes One recommendation of the report is to place the responsibility of the Humanities sequence within one department and one college. While that concept may localize the authority of the subcategory, unless there is recognition of that authority, no action on the above listed items is likely to take place. When new faculty are hired or current faculty are re-assigned to these courses, every effort should be made to make sure that the course objectives and goals are clearly outlined. The LAC Committee recommends that all faculty and instructors who contribute to Category 2A meet at least once a year to discuss the above items and to also address issues such as the following – Consistency in texts or materials for courses Common language on syllabi concerning the courses, their place within the LAC and student learning goals for each course Discuss the objectives of the courses and share methods of how to assess those objectives Planning to incorporate direct and indirect assessment methods into sections of various sizes during the semester Discussion of information gained from previous SOA activities Discuss the consistency of academic rigor in sections, particularly in methods of assessment Sharing of resources or innovative teaching methods (e-Learning for example) Currently the methods of assessment in the courses vary from test-only to a mix of test-essays-participation-presentation grades. It is suggested that the Humanities faculty have regular discussion about methods of assessment in their courses, since even in some small sections of Humanities grading may be based solely on unit exams, with no opportunity for points based upon participation, discussion or reflective writing assignments. In an effort to assist the instructors in the Humanities sequence, the University administration should be reminded that the current model was configured based upon the effort to keep most sections at a level of 35 or fewer students with only a very few sections of 120 students. Currently 7-12 sections per semester have sizes that range from 50-125 students. This results in the majority of students having their Humanities experiences in large classes. Every effort should be made to reduce the number of large sections of these courses to provide students with engaging experiences. The LACC noted in the report that there was little participation of faculty in the writing of the review, working on SOA procedures, and in bring them together for discussion of course grading, assignments and expectations. During the review period 24 different instructors and in any given year approximately 20 different individuals teach these courses. Participation in the monitoring, assessing and improving the course is the responsibility of all of those individuals and should be encouraged by all involved, including faculty, department heads and college deans.

Meeting Date: 
Sep 27, 2010