GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

MINUTES

ACADEMIC SENATE MEETING

Combined with

MEETING OF THE ACADEMIC FACULTY

Tuesday April 24, 2001, Student Center Theater

 

 

1.  The President opened the meeting at 3:03 PM with the following remarks:

 

(a) Jean-Lou Chameau will be the new Provost, starting June 1 (subject to BoR approval).

(b) System-wide budget is flat (because course unit enrollment remains lower than in 1997). Tech’s budget is flat and has been flat for 2 years. No rebound is predicted in system-wide statistics. Georgia High School graduation rates will be flat for the next few years so system-wide head count will not increase.

(c) After a comparison with peer institutions we have concluded that Tech’s out-of-state fees are substantially lower than those of other public peer institutions. As a result, we are increasing out-of-state tuition by $2000 over a period of two years. This will increase Tech revenue by about M$4 but about M$0.5 will be used for student financial assistance in cases of documented financial need. By comparison, Deans and other unit heads requested increased support of M$20 for the present year. In-state tuition and Graduate tuition costs will rise by 5% for the next year.

(d) The Institution is planning for the next SACS accreditation assessment in 2004. The Institution needs to embark on a cycle of review and assessment. The Executive Board has set up an “Institutional Review Committee” to provide oversight of all required assessment activities. The President announced the membership of the committee (See note #1 below).

 

2.  Clough stated that Tech is frequently approached about joining coalition groups which will engage in distance learning activities. They are often a combination of commercial and academic organizations. There has been a recent approach by the U21 Global/Thomson consortium. Thomson is a major business that can bring substantial financial support. Tech has not yet decided on its position concerning Intellectual Property Rights matters and wishes to delay a decision for a few months. We will set up a task force to create a framework within which the decision on such opportunities may be made. The President introduced Joe DiGregorio to present the background on the proposal under consideration.

 

DiGregorio stated that Distance Learning is very expensive and we do not have the resources to do this on our own; we need partnerships. Various business models exist including “For-Profit” spin-offs from Universities, University partnerships and University Corporate partnerships. We are seeking the right partnership for Tech and to become part of a group which has a chance of success. U21 Global University has existed for 4 years as an International group of Universities that seek to co-operate. For Distance Learning activities they need a corporate partner and have chosen Thomson Learning. This group owns many companies with the relevant expertise, but has no name recognition as an academic entity; the collaboration between the two groups is known as “Universitas 21". The target is 18 to 20 million students, mainly in SE Asia. It already offers an MBA (e-commerce), Masters in Information Science, and Diplomas (in e-commerce). The consortium seeks quality oversight and additional degree programs. The issues for Tech are protection of our name, action to take if we are unhappy with course quality, protection of IP rights, credit transfers and revenue stream. Thomson is leaving the door open through the Fall, but needs a decision and is talking also to alternative partners.

 

Clough commented that the task force would need to consider both the opportunities and the worries and make a report to the faculty before a final decision. There was a question as to whether the present proposal offered different opportunities from other existing groups; the answer was yes, Thomson would be different. In response to a question on how faculty would comment and contribute, Clough stated that we have the summer to gather input, are seeking a template for a decision and that U21 was not the only possibility; we could also choose to stay independent. There was a question about revenue. DiGregorio stated that income was not a justification for doing this, significant revenue would not occur before 2008; the advantage of joining was to secure an immediate global presence.  In concluding, Clough stated that the task group composition would be announced shortly and that input was welcomed.

 

3.  It was moved, that the Senate minutes of  December 5, 2000 be approved; this was agreed without dissent.

 

4. Jo McIver moved that all students completing their degree requirements by Tuesday, May 1, be granted their degrees at commencement on May 5, 2001. This was agreed without dissent.

 

5.  The President called on Andy Smith to present the report of the “Ad-hoc Committee on the Evaluation of Instruction”. Smith stated that we had good metrics for research, but in teaching only the student opinion survey. Prior to the formation of the present group a student task force had been reviewing the opinion survey and the present committee benefited from their work. The report of this committee was distributed to the Senate (Attachment below).  The study was performed by subgroups concentrating on the following three areas:

 

(a) Improvement of the present CIOS survey. This is perceived as too long, many people only look at a single question (#24) and students do not want to spend the time on these long forms.

(b) How to optimize response rate. One reason for poor responses was the sheer length of the present survey document.

(c) Alternative evaluations.

The committee proposes a new Student Opinion Form with only 10 basic questions. This has been tried out with about 1000 students and correlated well with the existing survey instrument. There would be provision for a school and the faculty member to add six additional optional questions; this number is considered optimal. In the past, students did not see results of surveys. As a consequence they developed their own system known as the “Course Critique”. This relies far too much on anecdotes and is not satisfactory. It is proposed now that the results from the ten basic questions of the new form be released to students. This should give them more useful information. It is proposed that release of results will only take place if there is a definite minimum response.

The first step in improving response rate is to reduce the complexity of the survey instrument. It is clear that students respond better if they know how the information will be used; some faculty gain responding rates of 80-90 percent by emphasizing the importance of the activity. The committee recommends that appropriate organizations promote use of the system.

 

Student opinions are only one part of the evaluation process. The committee also proposes peer evaluation of faculty instruction activities to be performed through visits to a class and review of class materials. Such review is already being carried out for non-tenured faculty in the College of Science. It is suggested that such evaluations be performed annually for pre-tenure faculty and in one course every three to five years for tenured faculty.

 

Peter Skelland questioned why the report included no reference to published studies of student opinion polls; he mentioned that such studies often show poor correlation between student opinion and the actual level of learning. Smith agreed that student opinions cannot give a measure of effective instruction nor of student learning. For that reason, they propose introduction of peer evaluation of the instructional activity. Skelland further quoted published statements that faculty concern about opinion surveys leads to grade inflation; he argued that we should not simply tinker with the survey but rather de-emphasize it. Smith agreed and stated that part of the committee recommendation is to change the balance between assessment techniques. A member commented that there was no mention of helping faculty to become better teachers. Smith replied that this was not within the charge of this specific committee. Questioner asked whether free response comments by the student would be distributed to students and administrators. Smith replied no! These are anecdotal and these will only be distributed to the instructor, which is the present procedure. Yorai Wardi commented that peer evaluation may strike at academic freedom by opening avenues for faculty to attack others. Smith stated that this can be avoided by allowing the instructor to choose the peers (as is done in part already in tenure decisions) and that the College of Science’s experience with peer review shows no evidence of pressure or concerns. Clough commented that we should not simply tally the numbers in surveys but should use them as just part of the information. Peer reviews should not be seen as punitive but rather as supportive of faculty aspirations to be good teachers. Asked whether there is any research on the differences between students responding to on-line surveys in comparison to in-class surveys, Llewellyn commented that there are only two universities with a full experience in such matters (Tech is one of these). Here we see total response drop by 2 percent, there is a small shift in the raw scores but the students still give an average rating of above 4 to faculty; moreover students make more written comments with the on-line version. Smith was asked whether we should also include post-graduation reviews by former students and he replied that this was being done by Hoey’s office with alumni surveys. There were comments about details of the survey questions. Llewellyn noted that students and faculty had looked through a set of about 200 questions to seek ten which they felt were useful; there was a compromise between student and faculty choices. An important matter was the reader’s interpretation of the question and here there were sometimes differences between faculty and students.

 

Smith made the following four motions, all of which were approved without dissent:

(1) That CETL implement a simplified student opinion form with ten standard questions plus the opportunity for the instructor and school to add three questions each (six optional questions total).

(2) That the Senate asks faculty, student organizations, and CETL to promote the use of the survey instrument.

(3) That the results of the ten core items for each class be made available to students and to the administration, provided that the response rate from the class exceeds 30% of class enrollment and ALSO that there are a minimum of five responses. The Senate would review these criteria one year after the new system was implemented.

(4) That the peer evaluation be established to complement student evaluation and self-evaluation in an overall scheme of teaching evaluation. The Senate encourages all units to use peer evaluation.

 

(6) The President called on Gordon Wishon to discuss the “Computer Network and Usage Policy”. Wishon commented first that this was a revision of a policy created in 1995 which had served us well. He reviewed the processes used for consultation and stated that the report was available on line (see attachments). The major elements of change from the 1995 policy are:

 

(a) An explicit statement of authority of the Institute to inspect files.

(b) Clarification of the conditions under which inspection and monitoring of files takes place.

(c) Introduces encryption and the escrowing of keys.

(d) Addresses personally owned computers.

(e) Clarifies policy regarding redistribution of copyrighted material.

(f) Simplifies language and uses links to Board of Regents and Institute Policies.

(g) Adds language concerning departmental obligations to conduct periodic risk assessment.

(h) Clarifies incident reporting procedures.

 

In conclusion Wishon encouraged feed back of comments.

 

7.  The President called on Deborah Johnson to introduce matters related to the Student Regulations Committee. She discussed the content of the minutes of 11/30/00, 1/31/01, 2/14/01, 3/12/01 and 3/26/01. She moved their approval which was agreed without dissent.

 

She introduced as a specific action item the proposed requirement that mid-term “grades” be provided in courses numbered 1000 and 2000. She explained that these grades would be S/U only (satisfactory/ unsatisfactory) with the U meaning that the work to date justified a grade of D or lower. They were for advisement only and were not part of the student’s permanent record. A questioner stated that we already have a policy that the students be given feedback before drop date. Johnson replied that this only requires some graded work be completed and does not represent the comprehensive assessment of progress which the mid-term grade would provide. Also the present policy does not provide anything that is fed back to advisors. Clough stated that we hope advisors will get the information and take action. McMath stated that intervention in the first term could be critical to successful retention. A questioner asked whether it was not overkill to provide such grades to all students in the 1000, 2000 level courses; some of the students are in fact juniors or possibly seniors. Johnson stated that administratively this was the simplest thing to do, provide grades by course rather than to provide grades related to the standing of the student. Clough emphasized that this was in fact a deficiency report and not a “grade”. Wardi asked whether the committee has sought other ways to help students, and Johnson replied that this committee is only charged to deal with matters related to the formal rules and regulations. Johnson moved that the following proposal on mid-term grades be adopted and this was agreed without dissent.

Mid-term grades will be submitted to the Registrar on all classes numbered 1000 and 2000 each term. These grades will be used for the advisement of students, not for the calculation of any GPA at Georgia Tech. Mid-term grades will be S or U (a grade of U indicates that based on work completed to that point the student’s standing is in the D or lower range). They will be submitted by midterm, as specified by the official calendar, and be available to students no later than the following Monday.”

 

Johnson reviewed briefly the proposed change to sections XVII and XVIII of the Student Regulations (For copies see attachments).  Mostly these are clarifications, minor housekeeping matters and changes to make the rules conform more closely to current practice. She moved that these be adopted and this was agreed without dissent.

 

8.  The President called on Scott Wills to present the minutes of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. Wills discussed the content of the minutes dated 12/6/00, 12/13/00, 1/4/01, 2/28/01 and moved that they be approved. This was agreed without dissent.

 

9.  The President called on Nolan Hertel to present the minutes of the Graduate Curriculum Committee. Hertel discussed the content of the minute dates 4/12/01, and moved that they be approved. This was agreed without dissent.

 

10.  The President called for any other business, old or new. There being none he adjourned the meeting at 5:20 PM.

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Respectfully submitted

 

 

Edward W. Thomas

Secretary of the Faculty

April 25, 2001

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Notes:

1. The Institute Review Committee to Oversee Institutional Responsibility for the Review of Academic programs is to include two representatives from Engineering, one from each of the other Colleges, the Director of Assessment and a representative designated by the Provost. Initial compositions are Mistree (ME) McClellan (ECE), Wine (Chem), Usselman (HTS), Rudoph (Arch) McIntyre (Mgt), Navathe (CoC), Hoewy (Assessment) and McMath (Provost).

 

Attachments to the Archival Copies of these minutes:

(1) Agenda.

(2) Report of the Ad-Hoc Committee on the Evaluation of Instruction. (To be found at http://www.facultysenate.gatech.edu/evalinstruct.html)

(3) Computer Network usage Policy. (To be found at http://www.oit.gatech.edu/security/security/usage/draftpolicy3.14.01rev.html)

(4) Revised Student Regulations Section XVII and XVIII. (To be found at

http://www.facultysenate.gatech.edu/code.html and

http://www.facultysenate.gatech.edu/extracurricula.html)