Senate Document Number   0998F

Date of Senate Approval   12/10/98

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Statement of Faculty Senate Action:

APC Document 3: 

Guidelines For Reviewing General Education Courses

Effective Date: January 1, 1999

Senate Document 36 (1984-1985) charges the Academic Policies Committee with reviewing the courses satisfying UNCA's general education requirements. Beginning in the Spring, 1999 semester, APC will undertake such a review.

The review will have two interrelated purposes-- to clarify the goals of general education and the contribution it should make to the university and to determine the degree to which designated general education courses contribute to a sound program compatible with UNCA's liberal arts emphasis.

APC will review the program in accordance with the following guidelines.

1. Schedule.

Spring, 1999: Library Research

Fall, 1999: Humanities, Arts, and Mathematics

Spring, 2000: Language

Fall, 2000: Social Science and Natural Science

Spring, 2001: Health and Fitness and Foreign Languages

2. Chairs and program directors, in consultation with their faculty, will prepare a written report to be submitted to APC.

3. The relevant department chairs/program directors and interested participating faculty will meet with APC to answer questions about their report. These sessions will be publicized and all faculty invited to attended. Opportunity will be provided for non-committee members to ask questions and make comments.

4. The chair of APC will give timely notice to department chairs and program directors that their general education courses are scheduled for review, provide them with copies of the appropriate senate documents, and review guidelines and formats.

5. APC will issue a written evaluation of how well the courses examined are contributing to the general education program. These reports will comment on the strengths and weakness of the course given the goals they are required to meet and may make recommendations for changes or modifications where appropriate or recommend outside review. The reports will be presented to the Faculty Senate and copies made available to department chairs, program directors, the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Office and interested faculty.

Addendum to APC Document 3: Details of the Report to be Submitted to APC before the Review of General Education Courses

The report sent to APC prior to the review will have seven sections as described below. Not all the items will require detailed or extensive answers and all are not relevant to every department and course. Information about grades, credit hours, course evaluations, budgets and adjuncts will be provided by the Office of Institutional Research. As a general rule the report should provide information for the five academic years preceding the filing of the report. APC will provide information about general education requirements at other schools. The committee may also request that chairs and program directors respond to additional questions that may arise as the review progresses.

Section 1 "Objectives"

The report's opening section will explain how the people who teach the course understand UNCA's liberal arts mission and general education goals; list what students are supposed to learn and/or what skills they are expected to develop in the course; and explain how the purposes of general education are advanced by the course objectives.

Section 2 "Course Assessment"

The report will describe the mechanisms used to assess how well the course contributes to the general education program. It will explain how the chair/director knows the course is achieving the objectives outlined in section 1; how the design and content of the course is evaluated in the context of the goals set for general education; and how it is determined whether students achieve the learning and skill development objectives established for the course.

Section 3 "Faculty Participation"

a. The interdisciplinary Arts and Humanities programs must provide the following information:

the numbers of faculty from different departments who participate in each course;

the percentage contribution to the program made by faculty from each department;

the number of adjuncts used to teach the course;

the percentage student credit hours in the course generated by adjuncts; and

the amount of money spent on supplies, resources, and faculty development.

b. Departments offering courses within their own disciplines will provide the information listed below.

The relationship between the course(s) designated for general education and the department's major programs. What is the rationale, for example, of including a general education course as part of the major, or for excluding it.

The percentage of department faculty teaching each general education course, the percentage of each faculty member's annual 24-hour teaching load committed to general education courses, and the number of adjuncts used to either teach the general education course(s) or to cover other department offerings because regular faculty are teaching them.

The number of student credit hours generated by each departmental course included in general education and the percentage of the department's total credit hours they produce.

A reasonable estimate of the percentage of the department's resource budget which is consumed by the general education courses.

Section 4 "Faculty Preparation"

The report will explain any special training or instruction given to faculty to prepare them for their participation in the general education course(s) either before or during the semester.

The report will specify any methods used to help faculty understand the general education goals and objectives of the course.

The report will explain the criteria and procedure used to select adjuncts to teach the course and any special training or instructions they receive. It must also explain whether adjuncts participate in any departmental meetings or discussion where general education courses are reviewed or discussed.

Section 5 "Assessment of Faculty Performance"

The report will explain the mechanisms used by chairs/ program directors to assess faculty performance in general education courses.

Directors of interdisciplinary programs will explain how performance evaluations are conducted and communicated to the chair of the faculty member's home department.

Department chairs will explain whether they employ any unique methods, over and above the evaluation techniques they normally use for regular department courses, when evaluating faculty performance in general education courses.

Department chairs will explain how performance in general education classes is weighted in their year end evaluation of a faculty member's performance.

Section 6 "The Course in the Context of the University's Program"

The report will provide the following comparisons:

student evaluations of the course with courses at the same level in the department, within the division, and across the university; and

grading patterns in the course with courses at the same level in the department, within the division, and across the university.

If the totals for the general education course vary substantially from the norms established by the other courses, in either instance, the report must explore possible reasons.

Section 7 "Alternatives"

The report will conclude with a discussion of alternative ways of achieving the goals described in Section 1. Here chairs/program directors will suggest revisions of the requirement which would help the department or program improve its general education contribution. The report will also compare the specific UNCA requirement under review with the general education programs of other selected universities. If the UNCA requirement is superior, the report should explain why. If, on the other hand, there might be a better alternative, the report should explain what changes the university might want to consider.