General Education Initiative Task Force:
Minutes of Meeting - October 29, 1997
Greg Cashman, Tom Erskine, Mike Garner, Ben Greene, Steve Hetzler, Victoria
Hutchinson, Jim Lackie, Robert Long, Pat Richards, Kathleen Shannon, Sarah Sharbach
Gail Welsh, George Whitehead, Ellen Whitford, Bill Zak
Members Not Attending:
Mike Boolukos, Phil Creighton, Jane Dané, Fred Kundell, Chapman McGrew, Fatollah
Saliman, Robert Smith, Debra Thatcher, Arlene White
- Jim conveyed Phil's thanks to the committee for their support and participation
with the Jerry Gaff visit.
- The January retreat will be held in either St. Michael's, Ocean City or Wye
River. How many would be able to attend the January 21/2 retreat? Count of 14.
Does it conflict with the Deans and Chairs workshop? Yes, that is January 22.
- Minutes were approved as is.
- Change margins to accommodate view on GroupWise. They were at 1" all
around. I have changed left and right to 1.5".
- Ben Greene distributed a diagram of an Input Process Output model, as well as a
synopsis of Bloom's Taxonomy.
- He tried to create an attribute and delivery process that mirrors what a
student will go through, and he concluded that Gen Ed is only one of
multiple processes that mold the student throughout the college
- The four processes described (Gen Ed, remediation, specialization and
culture) are overlapping as well as the attributes.
- The linkages between the process and the attributes require that we look
to see which attributes are best served by Gen Ed and which fall under
other process categories.
- The issue of Gen Ed and remedial courses was discussed. Comments
that remediation should not be included in the IPO chart was addressed.
Remediation was cited by Jerry Gaff's Western Civ example, but some
thought that the problem is really an impoverished vocabulary.
- Ben Greene continued with a discussion of Bloom's Taxonomy - showing a
hierarchy of skills necessary as a prerequisite for reaching the higher levels of
the hierarchy - mainly critical thinking, synthesis and evaluation.
- Gen Ed deals with both fundamental and high level issues. Typically
Gen Ed and Introductory courses are predicated on the first two steps -
knowledge and comprehension. Objections were raised that Intro and
Gen Ed courses use more critical thinking and analysis than is being
- One idea is a Freshmen seminar where students choose from a group of choices
that are most directly related to their interests, but that are interdisciplinary at the
- Another idea is the Capstone course in the final year which leads Gen Ed to the
heart of synthesis and evaluation. Other ways of judging synthesis and
evaluation could be service learning.
- Perhaps Gen Ed needs to carry through past Freshman/Sophomore years.
- Analytic skills are learned through practice.
- Which attributes should be addressed via the discipline vs. Gen Ed.
- Warning was issued that the list of goals and objectives can become too large by
trying to get everything in. Learning goals tend to be limited. It is not the
intention to undercut the discipline by requiring some Gen Ed.
- Gen Ed is not about the first two levels of Bloom's taxonomy. Our Gen Ed
should go beyond the acquisition of information to the skill of synthesizing. We
want the student to become involved in the learning process - not just take the
class because they need it to graduate. Learning will need to go beyond Gen Ed.
- The Student Development model was discussed - pointed out that it is not just a
problem oriented model but is based on producing performance and behavior. It
was reiterated that we need a framework to help us to grasp and visualize the
process - defines what ties us together.
- Alverno article was discussed. Gen Ed and Majors are presented in a matrix
fashion, where a student becomes an expert in one of seven areas, while
becoming proficient in the other six at the same time. Assessment is not through
exams, but each student must demonstrate ability in the seven core principles to
- Jim Lackie led a discussion on the impact of Jerry Gaff.
- Gaff will send a written follow up to Phil.
- Gaff met with everyone and commented that he liked our process. He thought
the task force was good and that we should think of Gen Ed as an across the
- Gaff said that there are strong naysayers on campus dedicated to attacking and
- We need to be bold - reflect back to other constituencies - look at how external
stakeholders fit into our Gen Ed process.
- We need to set the standards first, then worry about how everyone fits into the
standards. Address those outside of the standard later - like transfers.
- Get to the students - use focus groups to see how students feel about Gen Ed.
- Jim said that he may have created a PR problem where people did not know that
he came without an agenda - some wanted a more structured presentation.
- There is a lot of faculty interest in models.
- Assess the work through the process? What do we want? Look at Career
placement - what attributes do employers want - what deficiencies do they find
with our students?
- Consult with professional organizations from the individual disciplines to see
what they want their majors to have from core and Gen Ed. Professional
organizations are strongly opinionated on what core and Gen Ed courses their
- What type of questions could you address to student focus groups? Point was
made that when students taking Gen Ed courses are asked why they are there -
the reply is the same - taking it to get rid of it. There was a lot of discussion on
the usefulness of student focus groups. How can you ask a current student how
the Gen Ed requirements's assisted him or her? Perhaps a focus group of native,
recent alumni's would be a better focus group. There is a reluctance to get
students into the process. Point was made that students were a part of the
reaccreditation process - students have valid opinions.
- The other issue when Gaff was here is that the faculty are anxious to get a
discussion going on what works and what doesn't work. We need to start
having more discussions.
- Some felt that the strategic planning process was better than Jerry Gaff's
discussion. Some felt that he was condescending to women on campus. We
don't need to be talked to - he needed a better understanding of who SSU is. We
should have requested a document from him prior to the meetings to review, so
that we would have been more prepared with questions. He did not know why
he was here - he was too off the cuff.
- Some members expressed disappointment in the Jerry Gaff visit.
- Maybe we need to do a SWOT analysis - Perhaps use a subcommittee to
develop assessment SWOT and look at models.
- Maybe it is time to start getting others involved - hosting an open meeting on the
attributes of a graduate. We need to strongly and succinctly identify what the
problem is. We need to present our ideas within a structure.
- How should we structure input - electronic means, groups, open meeting? We
should hold an open meeting and send out a listing of the issues that we have
been addressing that is comprised of
(1) An evaluation of Gen Ed and
Perhaps the best way is to hold 2 meetings - one where the issues are presented
and a second which consists of discussion and dialogue among the faculty.
- The regulations set forth distribution requirements that we must include as
defined by MHEC and the USM before we even begin discussing how we will
form SSU's requirements.
1. Options to distribution requirements
- Examples that are already used on campus that can produce innovative courses
- There is an issue about credit hours and how innovative courses are rated - IDIS
course's take time to set up and no teaching credit is given. There is really an
administrative issue about how to track and credit teaching, courses etc.
- Perplexed by Phil's statement that we would have outcomes by December.
Perhaps the problem is vocabulary - we hope to have the attributes defined by
- We need info on the 26 hours and distribution req's. We need to know what the
state requires of us and how restrictive the reg's are. Generally, there are 26
restricted hours and 8 unrestricted/interdisciplinary hours. We do 45 hours
which is 11 hours above the required 34. Jane and Mike B. need to address this
issue. We need to know what we are tied to - what flexibility we have and what
the system requires of our Gen Ed. Is there a system expert?
- Many of the MD system universities are addressing Gen Ed. Wavie Gibson and
Elizabeth Curtin are on a system task force aimed at normalizing the Freshman
Writing seminar. We need to know if other joint reviews are going on.
- Gen Ed regulation's are minimums not maximum's.
- We are trying to get models - get tangibles. We need to look at:
1. What do we want to be?
2. Plug in the requirements from the COMAR regulations.
3. Add others to make up the gap between what we have and where we
want to be.
- The Gen Ed model has been the same for 27 years - we could leave it as it is -
make content enhancements or change it altogether. Even though we have had
the same requirements for 27 years, the courses supporting Gen Ed have been
- First open meeting will be scheduled. The Group will draft the statement to
distribute for input at the November 5th meeting.
- The group will come back in February and report progress.