Senate Document Number 3206S
of Senate Approval
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Statement of Faculty Senate Action:
Remove allowable repeat on IST 495.
1. Delete: On page 144, the entry for IST 490, Senior Research (2)
Impact: There is no impact on other programs or departments. At present the Director of Interdisciplinary Studies teaches IST 490. Deleting IST 490 and adding 290 results in a one-hour increase in the total number of hours offered by IST each year. IST 490 and 495 are part of the Director’s course load, so the impact on the Director’s home department will be substantially the same after this change.
Rationale: The rationale for originally adding IST 490 was to provide a place for students with an Individual Degree Concentration to satisfy major competency outside of disciplinary research seminars, and to provide a mechanism for sponsoring student work outside disciplinary research courses. In practice, this has not worked well. Students who have needed IST 490 are generally those who lack a strong connection with their faculty mentors. As a result, the Director of IST is called upon to be an expert in virtually all research areas. Not only is this undesirable, it is impossible. Major competency will now be demonstrated in a capstone experience that the student must describe before the Individual Degree Concentration will be approved.
2. Add: On page 143, new course number and description, IST 290
290 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies (3)
Introduces students to interdisciplinary studies by providing an overview of interdisciplinary theories and practices. Focusing on a particular topic, students will explore what it means to undertake an interdisciplinary study. Students planning an Individual Degree Concentration will begin work on their student portfolio. Spring.
Impact: Deleting IST 490 and adding 290 results in a one-hour increase in the total number of hours offered by IST each year. After a trial period with IST 290, the Director, who will initially teach the course, hopes other faculty will be interested in teaching it. This may impact other departments, but it is difficult to predict. The Director currently has one course per year release for administering IST.
Rationale: The addition of IST 290 will provide a core course for IST Individual Degree Concentration students. In the assessment of student learning, it was observed that graduating seniors were unclear about the meaning of interdisciplinary, and could not define it. They could not articulate how their work differed from others, and some were insulted that anyone would think that their work was different. Since students are awarded a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies, this is troubling. An introductory course will provide an overview of interdisciplinary methodology. The course will also explain the portfolio approach and how the program will use it to assess student learning.
3. Add: On page 144, new course number and description, IST 499
499 Undergraduate Research in Interdisciplinary Studies (1-6)
Independent research under the supervision of a faculty mentor. An IP grade may be awarded at the discretion of instructor. May be repeated for a total of 6 hours credit. See program director.
Impact: Faculty sponsoring Individual Degree Concentrations may have their workload increased if a student chooses to complete the capstone requirement with Undergraduate Research. It is anticipated that most students will fulfill their capstone requirement in a disciplinary course, so the number of affected faculty will be small.
Rationale: An IST Individual Degree Concentration requires a capstone experience that is to be clearly articulated in the major application. Currently, a student who does not anticipate using a disciplinary capstone course lists IST 490 for this requirement. This creates an expectation that the student will simply sign up for that course and be guided in Senior Research. While Senate minutes make clear that the intent was for the student’s faculty mentor to use the IST 490 designation to “get credit” for supervising student research, this is not generally understood by students or faculty. The IST 499 designation is unambiguous and eliminates any confusion about who will supervise the student’s research if the student is using Undergraduate Research, rather than a disciplinary course, for the capstone.
3. Delete: On page 144, in the description for IST 495:
May be repeated once for credit.
Rationale: IST 495 will continue to be used to satisfy oral competency and will allow “the director a direct opportunity to evaluate the success of students selecting the individual degree option and…enhances program assessment opportunities.” Requiring the course is the only way to assure that students fulfill their obligation of submitting their work to the Director of IST. While it is hoped that the course will provide “a forum for increased interdisciplinary dialog,” it does not make sense to have students in the course who are not seniors, as was originally intended. The only change is to delete “may be repeated once for credit.”