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Minutes of the Undergraduate Council Meeting of February 27, 2017

Present: Leo Bachmair, Jennifer Dellaposta, Kane Gillespie, Norm Goodman, Ellen Hopkins, Rob Kukta, Roy Lacey, Michael Mooney, Hanna Nekvasil, Deborah Serling, Alan Tucker (Chair)

The meeting was called to order at 4:00pm.

The minutes of the February 13, 2017 meeting were approved with one minor change, replacing “undergraduate teaching policy” by “undergraduate teaching assistant policy.”

There was a brief discussion about coordination between the Undergraduate Council and the curriculum committees of the major governance units. One of the charges of the Undergraduate Council is reviewing and coordinating all curricular and other academic matters that are not limited to a single major governance unit. It welcomes input from the curriculum committees and also solicits input from them on a variety of academic and curricular matters.

The Council was presented with an updated version of the proposal on revisions to the policy on retaking courses. This proposal would allow students to begin retake registration (second attempt) on August 15 for fall classes and January 15 for spring classes. It would also apply to High Demand/Controlled Access courses, though students would be advised to consider retaking such courses in the summer and winter sessions, if possible. The proposed policy also contains a provision for academic departments and general academic advising units to deny or deregister a student’s retake attempt if the student is not making sufficient major entry and/or major progress. It was suggested that departments should take on a more extensive role in advising students who have to retake a course, but this may not be practical due to the capacity constraints. Concerns were voiced that the proposed changes may result in a significant increase of retakes during the academic year, and decreases in enrollments for the summer session. Additional data will be needed to provide better insight regarding these concerns.

The Council continued its discussion of the policy on undergraduate teaching assistants. Opinions are divided as to whether undergraduate teaching assistants should be allowed to grade any work that contributes to the course grade. It was pointed out that grading duties would be optional and, if done with certain precautions (e.g., removing names and other identifying information from work to be graded) and under close supervision of the instructor, may significantly enhance the teaching practicum experience. The flip side is that some instructors may view the use of undergraduate teaching assistants primarily as a relief of their work load. The suggestion was made to leave detailed guidelines to the major governance units, but no consensus was reached on any specific recommendations.
The meeting adjourned at 5:00 pm.

Respectfully submitted,
Leo Bachmair

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