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C-4
Educational Policy Committee


A. Topics discussed by the committee during its monthly meetings
1. At the request of the provost we considered ways to reduce rigidities in our requirements, in order to expedite graduation rates and facilitate future possible curriculum reforms. One issue was of interest to all members — the legislative requirement. See Appendix C-4A for the proposal.
2. At the request of the Executive Committee, we discussed best practices for returning papers to students in accord with the law governing the privacy of student records (FERPA). See Appendix C-4B for the report.
  3. We discussed policy for approval of affiliated study abroad courses but made no recommendations. (The matter is complex and apparently needs to be addressed by a task force, as the committee on international studies claims an equal interest in the solution. Shirley Lafferty and Martha Menchaca volunteered to serve on the task force.)
  4. We discussed a possible diversity requirement, in accordance with student government proposal AR 15, SR 105, but made no recommendation, on the grounds that the University would probably soon appoint a committee to consider a complete overhaul of the core curriculum.
  5. At a number of meetings we discussed the proposals of the Task Force on Enrollment Control on March 9 and at subsequent meetings. The committee was favorably disposed to virtually all of these.
  6. We briefly discussed the Student Government proposal AR 26, for an interdisciplinary college (May 11) but made no recommendation. We felt we needed to know more about what was being proposed.
  7. We discussed the design of the OCA (Ongoing Course Assessment) evaluation with members of the team that created it (from DIIA) and made informal suggestions to them.

B. Legislation proposed by the committee
1. Proposal on criteria for honors recognition (Appendix C-4C). Discussed November 24. Passed by the Faculty Council February 16.
2. Proposed revisions to previous legislation on the 60-hour residency requirement (Appendix C-4D). Passed by committee March 9. Passed by the Faculty Council, April 12.
3. Proposal on procedures for dropping courses, generated by the student deans of the colleges (Appendix C-4E). Passed by the committee April 9, 14 to 2, turned down by the Faculty Council, May 10.
4. Proposal on the legislative requirement (Appendix C-4A). Passed by committee April 9, 15 to 1, passed by the Faculty Council, May 10.

Paul Woodruff, chair


Appendix C-4
Education Policy Committee



Appendix C-4A
Resolution on the Legislative Requirement

April 9, 2004

Resolved that the University request the legislature to allow universities in Texas to set their own requirements in history and government, in order to prepare students for good citizenship, subject to approvals by the Coordinating Board.


Rationale:

Background. The current 12-hour requirement is for 6 hours of American history and 6 hours of American government, including Texas government. The rigidity of this requirement delays graduation rates and impedes efforts at curricular reform.

  1. The world for which we are preparing students is increasingly complex. There is so much to learn now that few major universities outside of Texas have requirements as restrictive as those now in force here under legislative mandate. Some measure of deregulation is in the best interests of students. In addition, more flexible legislative requirements will allow each college and university to adjust its degree requirements to meet new educational goals, as they develop, without adversely affecting graduation rates.
  2. More flexible requirements will lead to better graduation rates, as students will be able to select from a wider array of courses that meet their time constraints or satisfy other special requirements of their degree programs.
  3. 3. More flexible requirements will also lead to a higher degree of portability for satisfying degree requirements. They will be better able to transfer credit from AP and IB courses taken at high school, and from courses taken at other colleges or universities inside or outside Texas. This too, will lead to faster graduation rates.

Return to section A1
Return to section B4


Appendix C-4B
Report on Best Practices for Returning Graded Papers

The committee was asked by the provost and by the executive committee of the Faculty Council to prepare this report. We asked all members of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers for their advice. The committee discussed the matter on December 8, 2003.

A. Principles
1. As an ethical matter, instructors should treat students and their work with respect.
2. As a legal matter, instructors must respect students’ privacy. We understand that no method for the public posting of grades falls within current legal guidelines.

B. Worst Practices
Leaving student work in a public place such as a corridor for students to collect. Anyone can read grades or comments. Students are very upset about this practice. It violates both ethical and legal principles, even when the papers are placed in sealed envelopes. This is a clear violation of FERPA.

C. Best Practices
1. Return papers directly to students in class, with the help of teaching assistants.
2. Do not put the grade on the front page of a test booklet or paper.
3. Use a service such as turn-it-in.com for marking and returning papers on the web.
4. Papers and tests not returned during the semester are kept in a secure location (such as a locked office) for one long semester thereafter.




Appendix C-4C
Proposal for Change in the University’s Honors Criteria

The committee was asked by Vice Provost Lucia Gilbert to consider catalogue changes for honors criteria used by the University. In response, the Educational Policy Committee makes the following four recommendations for endorsement by the Faculty Council:

1. The University should use in-residence GPA in all honors criteria instead of the University GPA.
2. The provost's office should work with the various colleges to ensure that all graduation honors use in-residence GPA as the criteria instead of the University GPA.
3. The designation for College Scholars should be changed to the following:
On Honors Day each spring, the University designates outstanding students as College Scholars. To be designated a College Scholar, a student must meet the following requirements:
The student must be registered as an undergraduate for at least twelve semester hours of coursework, unless he or she lacks fewer than twelve hours to complete degree requirements. Students who hold an undergraduate degree are not eligible.
The student must have completed at least twelve hours in either the Spring or Fall semester of the previous calendar year.
The student must have completed at least thirty semester hours of coursework at the University, excluding credit by examination, and at least sixty semester hours of college coursework, including transferred work and credit by examination.
The student must have an in-resident grade point average of at least 3.50.
4. The designation for Distinguished College Scholars should be added to the Catalog and should read as follows:
On Honors Day each spring, the University designates outstanding students as Distinguished College Scholars. To be designated a Distinguished College Scholar, a student must meet the following requirements:
The student must be registered as an undergraduate for at least fifteen semester hours of coursework, unless he or she lacks fewer than fifteen hours to complete degree requirements. Students who hold an undergraduate degree are not eligible.
The student must have completed at least fifteen hours in either the Spring or Fall semester of the previous calendar year.
The student must have completed at least thirty semester hours of coursework at the University, excluding credit by examination, and at least sixty semester hours of college coursework, including transferred work and credit by examination.
The student must have an in-resident grade point average of at least 3.80.





Appendix C-4D
Amendment to Proposal on Residency Requirements
3/9/04

2c. Eliminate this paragraph.


Rationale: Deans already have this power. In any case, the specified power does not relate to courses in residence, so this is irrelevant to the policy at hand. We are told, however, that the 60-hour rule will not work for Nursing, and it may not work for some other colleges. One program in Nursing will have to waive this rule for all of its students, but this should be indicated on the Nursing entry in the catalogue.


2d. Renumber as 2c.


New subsection:
2d. For the purposes of the 60-hour residency requirement, coursework in approved affiliated study abroad programs (international provider programs) shall be counted for in-residence credit.


Rationale: Most study abroad is undertaken by students with senior standing. We do not want the 60-hour rule to deter students from study abroad. The policy must be explicit, so that students know in advance that their hours will be approved. Current practice is for deans simply to waive the rules for these cases.




Appendix C-4E
Drop Policy Reform

Proposed Legislation

Current Policy

Dropping a course through the fourth week of classes. The following rules apply from the thirteenth class day through the twentieth class day of a long-session semester and from the fifth class day through the tenth class day of a summer term:

To drop a course during this period, the student must have the approval of his or her dean. In some colleges and schools, the approval of the student's adviser is also required; each student must consult the regulations of his or her college or school. If the student is allowed to drop the course, the symbol Q appears on his or her academic record to indicate a drop without academic penalty. No refund is given.

Dropping a course after the fourth week of classes. The following rules apply from the twenty-first class day through the midsemester deadline in a long-session semester and from the eleventh class day through the last class day of a summer term:

To drop a course during this period, the student must have the approval of the instructor, the student's adviser, and the student's dean. If the instructor approves the drop, he or she will assign the symbol Q or a grade of F. The symbol Q indicates that the student has a grade of at least C in the course, that no final grade has yet been assigned, or that no academic penalty is in order because of the student's performance and the nature of the course. In compelling circumstances, the student's dean may assign the symbol Q for nonacademic reasons.

Proposed Policy

Dropping a course after the twelfth day of classes. The following rules apply from the thirteenth class day through the midsemester deadline in a long-session semester and from the eleventh class day through the last class day of a summer term:

To drop a course during this period, the student must have the approval of his or her dean. In some colleges and schools, the approval of the student's adviser is also required; each student must consult the regulations of his or her college or school. If the student is allowed to drop the course, the symbol Q appears on his or her academic record to indicate a drop without academic penalty. No refund is given.


Rationale:

This simplifies the procedure for students and advisers, and it brings our policy in line with common practice. Few professors seriously review drop requests.

This proposal originated with the deans of the colleges. The committee accepted it, after a long discussion in which it promised to undertake a further revision of drop policy in line with the recommendations of the Task Force of Enrollment Controls. In particular, the committee will consider bringing to the Council proposals (a) to put a ceiling on Q drops per student, (b) to limit repeat enrollments in a course, and to charge a fee for drops beyond the fixed ceiling. This discussion is the penumbra of the above proposal.