Academic Policies Committee - 04 Feb 10

Attended by: Ashwin Patel, Chair; Kevin Nelson; Debra Clark; Bob Cohen; Scott Cohn; Julie Luekenga; Anthony Miccoli; Jason Mullins; Jessica Schocker; Reid Edwards

Excused: Harry Heil; Scott Newman; Martha Violett

Absent: Gary Pierson

Call to Order:  The meeting was called to order at 3:37pm

Approval: The minutes from the January 21st meeting were approved.  The February 4th agenda was approved.

Old BusinessAcademic Policies Committee’s attention for the remainder of the semester.  The Chair presented a list of pros and cons for focusing attention on advising, and a list of pros and cons for focusing attention on the First Year Experience.  The committee asked about the DegreeWorks software, but was told that no decision would be made until March.  Deb Clark, Kevin Nelson, and Aaron Maclennan from Computer Services will be meeting to discuss the implications of implementing Degree Works.  Funds are available, but more focused discussion is continuing.   The committee agreed that the status of DegreeWorks would guide continued discussion on advising. 

Kevin Nelson felt that undeclared advising was one of the things that needed improvement.  The committee agreed that there was some dissatisfaction among faculty regarding advising process.  It was pointed out that there seems to be an existing issue with advising, while the First Year Experience was a  new issue.  A possible First Year Experience program has not yet been raised in the senate.

The committee then discussed the “Freshman Cadre” – students who are doubly deficient (MATH 098/ENG 099) and who remain enrolled in MATH 098/ENG 099 as a group.  The retention rate in the Cadre group is better than the retention rate for students not involved in the program.  Kevin Nelson agreed to bring in data regarding the group, and the suggestion was made that some of the people involved in the program could speak to the committee to help determine how Western might build a more successful First Year Experience program.  The committee would have to determine if there was policy that could be generated from this.  Members of the committee believed that the Cadre program had successfully increased retention rates of those students, then components of it could be incorporated into a First Year Experience program. 

For those students in the cadre program, approximately 16 out of the 20 were retained, a number which was considered to be statistically significant, even though retention rates are generally calculated according to retention through the 3rd semester.  The committee was interested in knowing if there were any specific activities that the group could share that would have broader applications.  A few members of the committee stated that if a First Year Experience program wasn’t financially or logistically feasible, certain elements of it could be incorporated (via policy) into the general education classes. 

A motion was made to vote to invite Cadre representatives to an academic policies meeting.  The motion was seconded and carried. 

The committee decided to request examples of syllabi and class activities from cadre representatives, as well as ask them what they might do differently the second time around.

The discussion then turned to advising, ARCs, and undeclared majors.  Students who don’t come in for advising, don’t get ARCs, and then can’t get into the courses they want.  Thus, the semester starts with them “wandering.”  The committee debated the pros and cons of using ARCs.  Several questions were raised, including: How many returning students wait until the first week to register (thus, registered w/out an ARC)?  Are students who register for classes without an ARC just “exploring”?   Are there any standards for how advisors can get students into their offices for advising?   Do there need to be standards for faculty to get students into their offices?  Deb Clark outlined the various ways in which the Registrar’s office reminds students to be advised.  One option discussed was to not turn off the ARC for students carrying under 30 credits.  The general consensus was that freshman have to have an ARC, and that for anyone carrying less than 30 credits, the ARC should remain in effect. 

Julie Luekenga outlined her office’s efforts in this area.  She also mentioned that an option might be to have students who needed more extensive advising be sent to the Academic Resource Center, but that they currently did not have the funds necessary to support that.  The possibility was raised that it might actually be less expensive to provide support to the Academic Resource Center than to run a study skills class under a First Year Experience Program. 

The committee requested that Joanne Arai-Brown, Edith Cranor-Buck, and Tanya Rivers be invited to a meeting to discuss the Cadre program.  Kevin Nelson agreed to contact them. 

The meeting was adjourned at 4:28pm