Minutes of the Meeting of the Undergraduate Council, October 16 , 2013

Present: Steven Adelson,  Janet Clarke,  Arlene Feldman, Sarah Fuller, Norman Goodman, Rick Gatteau, Kane Gillespie, Cheryl Hamilton, Ellen Hopkins, Roy Lacey, Michael Mooney, Anne Moyer, Peter Stephens, Scott Sutherland, Melissa Terrill.

The minutes of October 2, 2013 were approved with minor revisions.

Anne announced there was a retreat to coordinate committee actions with the university senate executive committee from noon-5 on Friday November 1 at the Childs Mansion; two representatives from the UGC are invited.  Suggestions of topics for the UGC this term were solicited.  Along with the Stony Brook Curriculum, the long-standing issue of standardizing the role of undergraduate T.A.s, and other outstanding issues, there was a suggestion of the role of MOOCs. Charlie Robbins has indicated that he has other topics for the UGC.  Peter Stephens volunteered to attend; Norm Goodman will be there also.

Some adjustments have been made to the learning outcomes and standards for the new Stony Brook Curriculum.  These were primarily made to clarify the meaning or adjust the grammar/style.  A more significant change was made to the CER (Critical and Ethical Reasoning) requirement, which originally had three standards which, in essence, restated the learning outcomes.  This was changed to add a standard which says “A certified course will fulfill one of the three outcomes.”

The WRTD and SPK requirements were clarified to allow them to be fulfilled in a language appropriate for the intended audience.  For example, it might be appropriate for a Russian literature major to fulfill the WRTD requirement in Russian, but this would almost certainly not be appropriate for a Biology major.

Finally, a modification to the TECH requirement was suggested by the CEAS CTPC. Specifically, a second standard was added which stated

The “human-made world” is defined for this purpose as “artifacts of our surroundings which are conceived, designed, and/or constructed using engineering tools and techniques.”
Several people were not comfortable with this addition, feeling that the phrase “engineering tools and techniques” could be interpreted to mean “made by engineers” and consequently excludes non-engineering uses of technology.  After much discussion, the council suggested that the outcomes and standards be modified to read as follows.

TECH - Learning Outcomes for "Understand Technology"

1. Demonstrate an ability to apply technical tools and knowledge to practical systems and problem solving.

2. Design, understand, build, or analyze selected aspects of the human-made world. The “human-made world” is defined for this purpose as “artifacts of our surroundings which are conceived, designed, and/or constructed using technological tools and methods.”

Standards for "Understand Technology"

1. Courses must satisfy both learning objectives.

Regarding course evaluations, the committee revised the questions to incorporate our suggestions from last time.  However, several members felt that the order of the questions was still inappropriate.  For example, Sarah Fuller and Steven Adelson felt that “What is your reason for taking this course” was too far down the list: it should either be the first student-focused question, or the first question altogether.
Similarly, there was much support for the first question (“Overall, I would give this course a grade of...”) being later, in order to guide the students to think about why they are giving the grade.  On the other hand, others felt that it was important to be first, in order to get an immediate, visceral response to the question.  Some felt that this question was of no use and should be omitted entirely (in particular, Roy Lacey and Jeff Ge both think the question of little value to the instructor, since it is so subjective and difficult to interpret the student's intent.)

The council voted 7 to 3 (some did not vote) in favor of giving the committee our new comments, but allowing them to move forward with the questions for the December evaluation.

The meeting adjourned at 1:00PM.
Respectfully submitted,

Scott Sutherland