Undergraduate Academic Council


Meeting Date:

Monday, November 29, 2004, 2:00-3:05 PM.



J. Philippe Abraham, Scott Barclay, Randall Craig, Seth Chaiken, Richard Collier, Rachel Dressler, Sue Faerman, Robert Gibson, Anne Hildreth, Carolyn Malloch, Karin Reinhold-Larsson, Crystal Rion, Joan Savitt, Lisa Trubitt



Minutes from the November 8 and November 22, 2004 meetings were reviewed and corrections acknowledged. Those minutes, with required updates, were approved. Minutes from November 15, 2004 remain in need of review.


Chair's Report:

- The Dean mentioned that Sheila Mahan expects to transmit the Undergraduate Advisement

   Task Force report and recommendations to UAC members today.

- We may need to generate a report for the Undergraduate Advisory Council that covers two

   assessment plans.


Institutional Assessment Plan:


The Council agreed that the present current SUNY learning objectives do not meet the content of the University at Albany courses meeting math requirements.


Dick Collier shared three memos dated 11/18 and 11/19/04 from Provost Salins to SUNY Chief Academic officers. The first is a cover letter. The second is about strengthened campus-based assessments, and it is includes a request to campuses for their scoring rubrics and standards for accessing the learning outcomes of critical thinking. The third is a proposed revision of the learning outcomes in mathematics.


As mentioned at an earlier meeting, the Council agreed that the present SUNY learning outcomes do not meet the content of the UAlbany courses that fulfill the math requirements. The Council concurred that the current SUNY-wide math learning outcomes are pre-collegiate rather than college mathematics. One member accessed our web site to review how high school math fulfills this requirement.


When the Committee compared the proposed math learning objectives in the Salins’ memo against our locally determined objectives, they were found to be fairly consistent.


The Chair mentioned he met with Anne Hildreth and the Dean and shared draft descriptions of Math Gen Ed outcomes. Although the proposed revision appears fine, the meaning of mathematical symbols, results, etc. should be included. The Dean mentioned she would speak to Jeryl Mumpower that the document still does not address the fact that in order to assess student-learning outcomes, there must be different tests in calculus, statistics, and symbolic logic. A common “theme” is acceptable where a common assessment is not desirable.


The Advisory Committee has reps from across SUNY campuses, but there is no representation from this University.



The Council discussed the request for scoring rubrics and standards in critical thinking. An example for grading critical thinking was given. If a critical thinking course includes six requirements, the professor would grade according to the number of requirements met (an A grade would require meeting all six requirements, a lesser amount of requirements would translate into a B grade, etc.)


A question was raised on whether we have rubrics to assess critical thinking. The Dean mentioned that Josh Smith worked with faculty to develop rubrics in certain areas, but we do not have overall rubrics for individual courses. She believes rubrics are associated with a particular assessment. The Dean mentioned that she will meet with instructors to determine deciding factors on giving a student an A grade, B grade, etc. She would also discuss lowering grades and the factors leading to the lowering.


Will there be rubrics for critical thinking? There are pros and cons in taking a side when it comes to writing a paper, but rubrics can be arranged. Critical thinking is very much connected to writing. If students do not think well, they also will not write well. It was noted that not all writing is critical since we also offer creative writing. The Dean mentioned that by reviewing SUNY requirements for thinking and writing, it’s apparent there is an overlap.


In the local Times Union newspaper today was an editorial demanding timely individual academic performance reports for SUNY’s 64 campuses. The article was in response to Trustee Candace de Russy’s original request for this information. Criticism from the Times Union of SUNY for not releasing the information came as a surprise.


The Dean mentioned she sent Jeryl Mumpower a letter that will be forwarded to Peter Salins regarding GEAR guidelines. The letter comments on the student engagement position. Although the campus will review the academic environment, we believe we already perform this portion. Also, the letter inquires about funding for the project. The Dean also mentioned that she asked about whether they would recognize differences in certain math, writing, and thinking courses if we utilize SUNY norms. Will we test students on courses already completed or will we test within courses? The question was raised as to whether any mention of motivating students taking these exams was included in the Dean’s letter. The Dean stated those are the assumptions that we will have external exams and bring them to the students. Whatever is tested should make sense in the context of the course. While we believe that a single assessment that covers all the statistics courses is possible, we also believe a common assessment for all Gen Ed courses is not possible. Calculus should not be a problem.


The Dean mentioned that we could create rubrics for a writing assignment that covers writing skills. It would not be restricted to in-class and may be an out-of-class assignment. The Dean stated that the upper level writing requirement is local. It’s required to report on only the SUNY lower level requirement.


The Dean mentioned she would bring the final version of the Task Force on Advisement’s report and recommended policy to next week’s meeting.


The Chair mentioned that he and the Dean would report to the Assessment Advisory Committee the result of the Council’s assessment review. It would be fair to state that we have been informed of the Assessment Advisory Committee’s proposal and that we also received information from GEAR.


Other Business:


A question was raised on the hour and days of the week for the Council to meet next semester. The Chair will survey members.


Next Meeting:

The next Undergraduate Academic Council meeting will be held Monday, 12/6/04, 2:00 PM, LC-31.


Minutes Taken:

Notes taken by Joanne Baronner, Undergraduate Studies.