USF Undergraduate Council - Minutes of January 14, 2008
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Present: Keenan Arodak, Cordell Chavis, Dell DeChant, Sherman Dorn, Sharon Geiger, Laura Gonzalez, Michael LeVan, Sunita Lodwig, Dewey Rundus, Larry Thompson.
Absent: Bradley Kamp, Maja Lacevic, Steven Reader
Guests: Celina Jozsi, Janet Moore, Bob Sullins
The meeting was called to order at 3:09 p.m.
- The minutes of December 10, 2007 were approved with amendments.
- Consent Agenda - Nonsubstantive Changes
- Academic Policy Issues
- General Attendance Policy
The UGC worked on this document at its last few meetings and forwarded the results to the Faculty Senate. The Faculty Senate reviewed the policy and determined that it needed more extensive revision. For example, there is no mention in the policy of excused absences for medical emergencies. It was determined that the policy ought to cover such issues. Therefore the UGC has been asked to review the policy again and make recommendations for a more complete revision. Some issues suggested in discussion that might be covered by the policy include hospitalization, jury duty, participation in official USF sports teams or in official USF events, etc. Chair Thompson asked for a subcommittee to work on an expanded policy. Sherman Dorn, Michael LeVan and Dewey Rundus agreed to volunteer for the subcommittee. Bob Sullins offered assistance in collecting information about policies from other universities to serve as examples.
- Plus/Minus Grading System
Keenan Arodak and Cordell Chavis presented a proposal from the USF Student Senate for revising the USF Plus/Minus grading policy. The proposal amends the current scale to allow the A+ grade to carry a weight of 4.33. The proposal will not be retroactive and student GPA's cannot exceed 4.0 in either semester or cumulative averages. The new scale is expected to provide equitable compensation for students earning the A+ grade and moves the university to a fairer grading scale (Source Document: Student Senate of the University of South Florida, Plus/Minus Addendum Proposal, January 2008). The past history of plus/minus grading at USF was discussed. Practices at other institutions such as Arizona State University and Stanford University were discussed. Previously it was thought that this grading system could hurt the chances of USF students to get into medical school, but research appears to demonstrate that this is not so. The question was raised about whether this policy would apply to both undergraduate and graduate courses. It was agreed that the proposal would go to both councils and then the faculty senate so a different policy might be put into effect for each group. This may affect King O'Neill scholars, also graduation honors such as summa and magna cum laude designations. Past research was noted indicating that this change in +/- grading would produce only a .01 increase in the total GPA of USF students. The Council voted on the following resolution: "We support the proposal from the Student Senate to change the plus/minus grading system as recommended." The vote was five members for the resolution and five against. The Chair voted and the motion carried. The proposal with the recommendations of the UGC will be forwarded to the Graduate Council and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee.
- Academic Honesty in Distance Learning
Chair Thompson asked that the discussion be confined to academic integrity in distance learning. The current USF policy on academic integrity is comprehensive and applies to distance learning classes. The Undergraduate Council cannot set policy, but can recommend changes to the Faculty Senate. Chair Thompson requested that UGC members only participate in the initial discussion. An open forum would then be conducted. Participants were reminded that these proceedings were subject to "Government in the Sunshine" laws. Chair Thompson noted the large growth of distance learning at USF, with 60,000 enrollments, 1,200 class sections, 9 master's degrees and 23 graduate certificates available completely on line. The issue of academic integrity in distance learning courses has mushroomed and the question has arisen whether USF's current academic integrity policies are developed sufficiently with distance learning courses in mind. The Council on Technologies for Instruction and Research (CTIR) has been looking at overall policies dealing with the distance learning. The UGC will work with the CTIR to further develop needed policies. The floor was then opened for discussion. It was noted that there is probably no fool-proof way to keep people from cheating in distance learning courses, but that this is also true for courses attended in person. Some suggestions for improving course security were the use of proctored testing, credentialed testing centers, writing samples to compare with test day samples, technological fixes to catch cheating like those currently implemented to catch plagiarism, cameras used to film on-line students performing course assignments, use of web-cams and so forth. It was noted that there may be institutional system issues involved with the need to raise fees to pay for on-line course security measures. It was noted that measures may differ for graduate and undergraduate courses. Whereas graduate courses may be offered worldwide and make it impossible for students to come to campus for testing, this is probably not true of undergraduate courses. It was reiterated that the UGC can lead a discussion and collect useful ideas even though it cannot set policy. The Council agreed to share its ideas and discussions and appointed Kay Perrin as liaison with the Technology Council. The Technology Council will be asked to provide a list of 3-5 of the very best options for increasing security for on-line courses. It was noted that the UGC has a duty to protect the academic integrity of on-line courses. The Chair noted that this issue will be added to the agenda in the future and that he would raise the issue with the chairs of the other Councils.
- New course/curriculum proposals
The next meeting will be Monday, January 28, 2008. The meeting was adjourned at 4:34 p.m.
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