Committee suggests LER plan to faculty

Regina Garcia Cano

Course evaluations to go online starting Fall 2009

Faculty Senate discussed the Liberal Education Requirements reform and the switch to electronic course evaluations at its meeting yesterday afternoon.

Senior Associate Provost Timothy Chandler said the LER Core Committee will probably recommend to Provost Robert Frank a model that would add a foreign language requirement as its most radical change. This model also calls for smaller class sizes.

“They need to be restructured so there are no LERs required for one particular major because students often change from one major to another,” Faculty Senate Chairman Tom Janson said.

But for some members of the Faculty Senate, the educational implications of the new model should not be the only ones considered in the decision-making process; the economic challenges under the university’s new budget model should also be taken into account.

“RCM (Responsibility Center Management) is going to make people hesitant to teach LERs,” said Pamela Grimm, associate professor of marketing. “If classes are divided into smaller sections, some units won’t afford it.”

Under RCM, every college receives its revenue based mostly on its enrollment.

“LERs cover the expenses of teaching small classes,” Janson said. “A class with 150 students pays for those sections that have six or eight students.”

After receiving feedback from the community through focus groups, town hall meetings and comments on its Web site, the committee will give its report to the provost by the end of the month. The report was originally expected to be ready by last Friday.

Online evaluations

Janson announced to the Senate that, beginning Fall 2009, the surveys students take to evaluate their instructors will be delivered online. The evaluation itself, however, won’t change.

Some senators said with this policy some students may decide to not take the survey. Janson agreed, but he said after students get used to the new system, the numbers will rise again.

He said the decision will also benefit students enrolled in distance learning by saving them postage to mail their survey.

Other items on the agenda

&bull Jeffrey Pellegrino, assistant director of the Faculty Professional Development Center, presented the Classroom Response System. This program allows faculty members to receive automatic responses from students in numeric terms by using a BlackBerry-size device. The tool will cost students about $60.

&bull The Senate approved the creation of an exercise science major with two concentrations, exercise physiology and exercise specialist.

&bull The Senate discussed the grading system for First Year Experience FLASH Point courses. They made no decision, but it will be an action item at the next Educational Policies Council meeting.

Contact academics reporter Regina Garcia Cano at [email protected]