The Undergraduate Assembly met in regular session on Tuesday, November 1, 2005, at 2:15 p.m. in the UC Rio Grande B. Provost Dana Dunn presided.
Gary McMahan represented the Plus Minus Task Force. Numerous students were also in attendance.
of Minutes. The minutes of
the regular meeting on
Report of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. Kimberly van Noort presented the following policy recommendations approved by the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. The recommendations were approved by the Undergraduate Assembly.
Agenda Items Approved by the Committee on Undergraduate Curricula
ARCH 3553 Design Studio: Architecture I – change in prerequisites
ACCT 3304 Software Tools – change in course description
Catalog text change:
Insertion of full text of accreditation agency wording for the catalog for Civil, Electrical, and Industrial & Manufacturing Systems (rather than the present abbreviated version)
Department of Art
ART 4367 2 D Animation
Department of Communication
Catalog text change:
Computer & Oral Competency statement to be placed at beginning of text, rather than after teacher certification
Text material to clarify changes in required courses for journalism, communication technology, news-editorial journalism and visual journalism majors
COMM 3320 Internet Graphics Communication – new course prerequisites
COMM 3350 Web Site Communication – update of course description
COMM 4309 Internet Marketing Communication
COMM 4321 Advanced Web Authoring – new course description to reflect changes in course numbers and prerequisites.
COMM 4323 Interactive Media Authoring – change in prerequisites
COMM 4331 Interactive Website Communication – change in prerequisites
COMM 4350 Advanced Website Communication
JOUR 2340 Photojournalism – change in prerequisites
JOUR 4325 Specialized Reporting – adding prerequisite
JOUR 4326 Feature Writing – adding prerequisite
JOUR 4327 Opinion and Persuasive Writing – adding prerequisite
JOUR 4346 Public Affairs Reporting
JOUR 3346 Introduction to Translation
Department of Modern Languages
Catalog text change:
Change from “Ibero-American” to “Latin American”.
Text change to reflect change in prerequisites for Spanish majors.
FREN 3391 Conference Course
GERM 3391 Conference Course
GERM 4393 Internship in German
PORT 3391 Conference Course
RUSS 3391 Conference Course
SPAN 4340 Introduction to Translation
SPAN 4341 Specialized Translation
GERM 4321 Topics in Literature and Culture – change in prerequisites
GERM 4322 Special Topics in German Studies II – change in prerequisites
GERM 4334 The Culture of Business – change in prerequisites
GERM 4335 Business German – change in prerequisites
SPAN 1442 Level II – change reflects requirement of C or better in prerequisite
SPAN 2313 Level III – change reflects requirement of C or better in prerequisite
SPAN 2314 Level IV – change reflects requirement of C or better in prerequisite
SPAN 3311 Spanish Culture and Civilization – change in course description
SPAN 3312 Latin-American Culture and Civilization – title change to reflect current usage
SPAN 3315 Composition Through Literature – changed title to reflect a more rigorous concentration on composition
SPAN 3319 Introduction to Spanish Linguistics - changing prerequisites
SPAN 3320 Introduction to Hispanic Literature & Culture – change in course description and prerequisite
SPAN 4310 Topics in Peninsular Spanish Literature and Culture to the Eighteenth Century – changing prerequisite
SPAN 4311 Topics in Peninsular Spanish Literature and Culture, Eighteenth Century to the Present - changing prerequisite
SPAN 4313 Topics in Hispanic Culture - changing prerequisites
SPAN 4314 Topics in Latin-American Literature and Culture to Modernism - changing prerequisite
SPAN 4315 Topics in Contemporary Latin-American Literature and Culture - changing prerequisite
SPAN 4317 Chicano Literature - changing prerequisite
SPAN 4318 Mexican Literature - changing prerequisite
SPAN 4327 Women in Hispanic Literature - changing prerequisite
SPAN 4335 Business Spanish - changing prerequisite
SPAN 3321 Introduction to Hispanic Literature
Department of Music
Changes in catalog text:
Change in instrumental conducting option (under “Emphasis in Music/Business, Music/Theatre, and Music/Media”) to reflect changing a course’s credit hour production (MUSI 3208 to 3308) to add in all of the basic technical conducting skills – no change in credit hours
Changes in the catalog text under Teacher Certification portion to reflect changing 3208 and 4208 to two 3-hour courses (3308 & 4308) to cover all of the basic technical conducting skills, and deleting the lab ensemble (0172) and applied conducting (4192) – no change in credit hours
Change in instrumental conducting option (3208 to 3308) under Jazz Studies Option – no change in credit hours.
Substitution of prerequisites for All-Level Choral Option Teacher Certification – no change in credit hours
Music 3308 Instrumental Conducting I (replaces 3208 and 0172)
Music 4308 Instrumental Conducting II (replaces 4208 and 4192)
MUSI 0172 Instrumental Lab Ensemble
MUSI 3208 Instrumental Conducting I
MUSI 4192 Instrumental Applied Conducting
MUSI 4208 Instrumental Conducting II
Department of Biology
BIOL 3340 Medical Entomology
Department of Math
MATH 4313 Applications of Mathematical Statistics (previously taught – to add back in after dropping from inventory)
Van Noort then presented the following items approved by the committee for consideration by the Undergraduate Assembly. Both items were approved.
Agenda Items Approved by the Committee on
Undergraduate Curricula Fall 2005
For Consideration by the Undergraduate Assembly
November 1, 2005
Catalog text changes:
Inclusion of text requiring TOEFL for Nursing majors
Revision of requirements giving choice of computer competency or literature – this was approved with admonition to ensure that computer competency is addressed in other ways
Robert McMahon raised a question about the first requirement, whether it included American students or not. Van Noort clarified by reading the proposal exactly as written. “Official TOEFL scores are required from international students from non native English speaking countries. Applicants who graduate from secondary schools from English speaking countries as defined by the university are exempt. No other university exemptions apply.”
Report of the Academic Standards Committee. A motion was passed and seconded to reconsider the 75 hour rule that was tabled at the last meeting. David Gray presented the following proposal which was revised after the last meeting to incorporate issues that were raised.
Undergraduate students must
be admitted to a major before they accumulate 75 semester credit hours
including transfer credit. An enrollment
hold will be placed on students exceeding this limit who have not been admitted
to a major. To have the enrollment hold
removed students must see an academic advisor in the
Students transferring to UTA
with 75 or more hours should be admitted directly into a major. The decision to admit a student to a major
resides with the academic department and the department may establish
independent admission criteria, prerequisites, and other admission
conditions. Students who are unable to
be admitted to a major of their choosing must see an academic advisor in the
Allen Repko asked who would make the notification, referring to the statement, “Students who have reached 60 hours and have not declared a major will be notified of this policy.”
Michael Moore responded that it would be the
The revised rule was approved as presented.
Report of the UTA Task Force Investigating Plus Minus Grading.
Provost Dunn introduced the issue by stating that there would
be no need to take a vote on the issue today.
A survey will be sent to all tenured and tenure-track faculty at the
university in the next several weeks.
The intent today is to have a discussion of the issues. This discussion has already occurred in other
venues on campus. Gary McMahan of the
Gary McMahan: From what we’ve learned at other universities, on initial implementation you will see greater transaction costs. More complaints would be expected early on just because of the change.
Sometimes in describing student performance, greater accuracy is needed. Especially in graduate school where you have a 5 point scale, but looking at the use, it seems that A and B are the only ones we use. We don’t make that great of a distinction. On the undergraduate level, we do see more of a use of A
through D for granting credit.
If you look
Josh Sawyer, Student Congress President: Student Congress passed a support resolution against the proposed system. It passed Student Congress 32-1-0 against the Plus Minus Grading System as it was proposed from the Task Force and that if the university did go to this system that the grade of A be investigated. We want to make it known that the Student Congress is not against the Plus Minus Grading System as a whole but against what was proposed to be used here at UTA.
Some of the concerns from the students include lack of benefit to the student. How does this benefit the student without a significant grade change? It has been said the change would be about .06 of a grade point, either up or down, which is very insignificant overall when you look at the university.
Academic representation was brought up. Research is not tied into the grading system. The tier one Carnegie research institutions that use this grading system are not getting research dollars because of their grading systems. They’re getting research dollars because they have faculty and students involved in research, getting those dollars into the university, not because a student is graded a certain way.
One other issue that came up is that this came from the graduate school. It would primarily be beneficial to the graduate school. There’s not much research done at the undergraduate level. Using that argument with undergraduate students is difficult.
One of the biggest issues is the
affect on the traditional A students. A lot of the arguments that have been brought
up are that there is a big difference between an 89 student and an 81 student
or a 79 student and a 71 student. Why
has that argument not been brought up for an A student? According to a study done by
The next issue was the affect of
UTA students going into the job market.
Most universities in the state of
We at Student Congress do not think
this is a bad idea. We think it is a bad
time. Unless the other universities in
the state of
Zac Sanders, Vice President of Student Congress: We passed the resolution in Student Congress but we wanted to know what the average student thought. We wanted to talk to your top students, your bottom students, students from every major that we could find. Within two weeks we gathered 2,510 student signatures against the Plus Minus Grading System. We’ve never had that many students involved in anything here at UTA. Our last election we had 1700 students. We tried not to be biased so we looked for a student or an organization that would start a petition for it but we could not find anyone who felt that strongly in favor of it. In two weeks, we got 10 percent of the student body to sign the petition against it. Also, we started a web group and in two weeks, 500 students joined the web group. It went before the Graduate Student Senate and two were for the proposal as is, two were for the proposal if there were no A-, and 13 were against it. Overwhelmingly students are against this.
Dana Dunn: Just one point of clarification in respect to a comment about the average student’s grade not being affected. What the research really shows is that overall we will not see significant grade inflation or deflation but individual student grades will change. Approximately half will go up and half will down. Those who argue in favor of the proposal often use that as justification because they believe that there will be more grading accuracy and a clearer reflection. Whereas, for some students it will be a higher grade for others it will be lower.
Gary McMahan: This is a very emotional issue because it impacts us all. There is natural resistance to change. There are still issues to be worked out. The committee was somewhat split. There was a majority was for it. This process is good to get further input.
Dana Dunn: I anticipate that the survey that will be conducted will address some of the different implementation scenarios and some of the issues that have emerged from both student and faculty comments. For instance, the different possibilities in respect to implementation in terms of the A or the possibility of doing this at one level and not the other – graduate versus undergraduate. When we conduct the survey, we will include some different implementation scenarios to gauge whether there is support for those scenarios based upon the issues that are surfacing in this discussion.
James Munch: If the goal in this is to reduce variance or to be more accurate, was there any discussion given to percentages?
Gary McMahan: There was some discussion. What we’ve mainly been talking about is giving professors the opportunity to use plus minus grading. It is still open to discussion.
D.L. Hawkins: What are grades? Grades don’t exist to help students. They exist to help people outside the university understand what you know. They are not here to help or hurt you. Some fields are not as assessable as others.
Robert McMahon: Employers or graduate schools don’t just look at GPAs. They look at other things, such as GRE scores, involvement in campus activities. I don’t think the difference in a 3.65 and 3.70 is going to make that much difference. We’re talking about very minute changes for students. For the average student, this will not be a huge impact.
Zac Sanders: There are a lot of other issues that this will affect such as scholarships and financial aid. A lot of these require a 3.0 GPA. These are based on the current grading scale. Are we going to change scholarship requirements? Numbers matter in today’s society.
Student visitor: I want to thank those that have worked so hard on this. I think this is great. I think that this conversation that we’re having is exactly what this university needs. I’ve heard several great ideas. Let’s take this and move forward and come up with a plan that we can all live with, one that will advance UTA’s academic standards.
Kenneth Roemer: I think it would be nice if UTA could lead in some areas rather than waiting for other universities to do it. Why didn’t the committee look at plus minus all the way to include A+?
Gary McMahan: It was a judgment call. The majority don’t use the A+ just because it goes over the 4.0 system. However, there are ways that you could look at it that a 98, 99, 100 could be an A+. The majority of the ones we could find did not use that. It is still open to discussion.
Student visitor: I understand this policy would not be retroactive. How will it affect the student who has been here under the old system and is now changing to the new system? When it is implemented could it apply to new students only so their grading would be uniform throughout their career?
Dana Dunn: Certainly there are many different implementation scenarios and those will be explored in a survey that will be conducted with the faculty. There are also some implementation constraints regarding expense and investment of time. It remains to be seen if it is possible to simultaneously operate with multiple grading systems for the same levels.
Additional student visitors expressed similar concerns about the system.
Other Business. No other business was presented.
Adjournment. The meeting adjourned at 3:40 p.m.
Michael K. Moore