APPROVED ON NOVEMBER 14, 2000

 

 

MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE MEETING

October 10, 2000

The second meeting of the 2000-2001 academic year was called to order at 11:50 a.m. by Prof. Richard Eckert (Computer Science and Chair of the Faculty Senate) in UU-221B.

1. Minutes. The minutes of the September 26 meeting were approved as mailed.

2. Announcements/Questions. Prof. Eckert reminded the body of the upcoming Middle States accreditation team site visit on October 15-18. Prof. Eckert also announced that at last week's Faculty Senate Executive Committee (FSEC) meeting, Prof. Stanley Masters (Economics and Chair of the Faculty Senate University Undergraduate Curriculum Committee [UUCC]) attended and ideas were exchanged about general education and guidelines for course approval. The UUCC will present to the FSEC by early November a set of guidelines for approval.

3. New Business. a) Interim Report of the Provost's Advisory Task Force on the Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes, and b) resolution regarding assessment from the FSEC. Prof. Eckert gave a brief history of the issue. He explained that the FSEC has examined the document and has some reservations since it is contradictory. It refers to local autonomy of the process while calling for a system-wide assessment of accountability.

Prof. Eckert read the following motion which was passed unanimously by the FSEC:

The Faculty Senate of the State University of New York at Binghamton welcomes the opportunity and challenge, presented by the Provost's Advisory Task Force on the Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes, to critically examine how we assess the effectiveness of General Education and Majors. On the one hand, the report of the Task Force emphasizes the need for individual campuses to design and implement assessment, but the report also insists that a University-wide assessment is necessary as well. We agree with the SUNY Faculty Senate resolution of April 29 that campus-based assessment is appropriate and should be the principal focus of SUNY's assessment initiative. Uniform assessment instruments of necessity would ignore the diversity of missions, academic disciplines, and students among the SUNY campuses, which is precisely the strength of campus-based assessment. We are confident that sufficient information would be available through analysis of campus-based assessment results to meet the dual functions of improvement and accountability.

Prof. Peter Knuepfer (Geological Sciences and Environmental Studies, and Chair of the Faculty Senate Educational Policy and Priorities Committee [EPPC]) explained that the committee was asked by the FSEC to formulate language to serve as a basis for response by the faculty. The EPPC felt that the response should be positive rather than negative and the FSEC agreed.

Prof. Richard Burright (Psychology) asked if the UUP report on this issue was considered in formulating the response. Prof. Knuepfer replied that the response was formulated before the report was released. Prof. Randall McGuire (Anthropology and Chair of the FSEC) suggested that there be general discussion

about assessment and what faculty think it should be. He expressed concern about two issues: how would a 'big test' (as proposed by Provost Peter Salins) be used in a comparative evaluative way, and the resulting issue of content control.

Prof. Burright agreed with Prof. McGuire's comments but asked for more information about what exactly faculty are being asked to comply with. Prof. Sandra Michael (Biological Sciences and University Faculty Senator) asked where the resolution will go if passed. Prof. Eckert replied that it will go to President Lois DeFleur since she asked for faculty input.

Prof. John Chaffee (History) asked if the EPPC has developed any provisional plans for assessment at the campus level. He also asked how majors would be assessed and suggested that at that level the process be respective of departmental autonomy. Prof. Knuepfer replied that the EPPC has not yet considered such plans but expects to when the entire EPPC committee membership is constituted.

Prof. Steven Dickman (Geological Sciences and Environmental Studies) offered a friendly amendment to replace the word 'principal' in the eighth line of the motion with 'only' to read "...should be the only focus of SUNY's assessment initiative." The motion was seconded. Prof. Chaffee suggested instead to delete the word 'principal' and Prof. Dickman accepted the revision. After a vote the motion to amend the resolution passed, 30 in favor, 2 opposed, 2 abstentions.

Prof. McGuire again suggested that there be frank discussion about what assessment is and the implications. Prof. Eckert agreed. Prof. Pamela Stewart Fahs (Decker School of Nursing) also agreed and called the question. A vote was taken on the motion as amended. The motion passed, 32 in favor, 1 opposed, 4 abstentions. The amended motion is:

The Faculty Senate of the State University of New York at Binghamton welcomes the opportunity and challenge, presented by the Provost's Advisory Task Force on the Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes, to critically examine how we assess the effectiveness of General Education and Majors. On the one hand, the report of the Task Force emphasizes the need for individual campuses to design and implement assessment, but the report also insists that a University-wide assessment is necessary as well. We agree with the SUNY Faculty Senate resolution of April 29 that campus-based assessment is appropriate and should be the focus of SUNY's assessment initiative. Uniform assessment instruments of necessity would ignore the diversity of missions, academic disciplines, and students among the SUNY campuses, which is precisely the strength of campus-based assessment. We are confident that sufficient information would be available through analysis of campus-based assessment results to meet the dual functions of improvement and accountability.

Prof. McGuire moved to reconvene as a committee of the whole in order to discuss the issue of assessment. The motion passed.

Prof. Stewart Fahs commented that students in her school already take a 'big test' in that they must pass an exam in order to be licensed. She suggested that the positive aspects of assessment be considered as well as the benefits for students. Prof. Eckert asked if her school was involved in the preparation of the licensing exam and she replied it was not as a school but as professionals, nurses are often asked to be item-writers.

Prof. Eckert summarized that the professional schools are different from Harpur in that students must show evidence they have learned a certain body of material. Also this material is not only at the general education level but at the major level.

Prof. Beverly Rainforth (School of Education and Human Development) stated that in education there is a national teacher exam. She commented that when speaking about an individual profession, there are standards of performance within the profession; when speaking about learning an individual subject, there is broad course content. She commented further that there are other ways to measure assessment outside of standardized testing.

Provost Mary Ann Swain reminded the body that the Middle States Association does require each campus to have an assessment program; Binghamton's is department and school based. Regarding general education, Provost Swain suggested that there be collaboration among SUNY campuses in assessment of critical skills such as writing. Prof. Eckert asked if the current assessment program is acceptable to Middle States, and Provost Swain replied she does not know yet since the campus did not have such a program in place during the last accreditation ten years ago. Prof. Eckert asked if there is any mechanism already in place to allow collaboration among the other Centers. Provost Swain replied that a new group would probably have to be formed.

Prof. McGuire commented that in general faculty are not opposed to assessment since it already occurs regularly. However, an issue of concern is who will determine what students will learn.

A motion was made to come out of the committee of the whole. After a vote, the motion passed.

The meeting adjourned at 12:38 p.m.



ABSENT: John Affleck, Allan Arkush, *Bat Ami Bar-On, Lois DeFleur, Donald DeMauro, Juanita Diaz, *C. Robert Emerson, Vincent Grenier, David Hanson, Shin-Yi Hsu, Albrecht Inhoff, *Anthony King, Philip Kraft, Thomas Kremer, Nancy Lamberty, Donald Levis, Maria Lugones, Alice Mitchell, *Burrell Montz, *Rosmarie Morewedge, David Murrish, Charles Nelson, Thomas O'Connor, Isidore Okpewho, Erik Pedersen, *Ted Rector, William Smotherman, Richard Trexler

*Excused