Feedback from Academic
Conference Discussion Groups
Discussion Session B: Task
Following is a compilation of all feedback
received through the discussion groups at the Academic Conference
during Session B, Task Force #1. This is an initial summary of
comments received from nearly twenty separate groups, so there
are some inconsistencies and contradictions, particularly in "tone"
or "voice". The comments have been grouped by topic
since many groups discussed different issues than the questions
posed to them. A more detailed analysis of the feedback will follow.
In every group there was a concern about
how the recommendations will impact faculty workload, time,
reward structures or roles. In the interest of brevity, these
concerns have not been listed under every question, but it should
be noted that this is a predominant and major concern. All comments
from the group that was assigned to discuss faculty incentives/rewards
have been included, since these comments went into more depth
than other generalized concerns about workload.
Other overall concerns expressed by most
- A desire for further research on several
subjects so we do not "reinvent the wheel."
- A desire to learn from other campuses
- A concern about the costs of many of
- A general support for increased flexibility,
with caveats for how it will affect workload.
- Mixed feelings about newer pedagogies,
with some groups strongly supporting more active and student-centered
forms of learning, and some reacting with skepticism to these
- The credit system should not be abolished,
and there should not be a move away from courses/
- That the only assessment of students be
by testing (paper and pencil)
- It was agreed that credits reflect that
a student learned a certain amount of material, and that the grade
reflect how well the material was learned.
- Assessment (including examination) is
part of the learning process.
- The group concluded that time is well spent
in the classroom.
- Is "demonstrated learning" simply
an educational fad based on jargon that the legislature and corporate
officers can understand? Since many students apparently can't
do what they want, isn't this the ultimate assumption that the
responsibility for learning lies with the faculty rather than
a shared responsibility with students?
- How do we know what we are doing now, what
our best practices should be? What does a CSU degree really stand
- Assessment needs to be a continuous process.
- Education provides a necessary structure-
demonstrated learning just provides a way to get out of courses.
- Need to measure two things: what a student
knows (content) and what the student can do with the content (application).
- Utilize extra-class measures, such as research
papers, senior theses, competency exams over multiple areas.
Granting Credit for Demonstrated
- Grade inflation and external elements of
change (such as race, class, ethnicity, etc.) are reasons for
investigating non-standard assessment mechanisms.
- Formative assessment is as important, if
not more important, than summative assessment, and should be used
to check the measures and objectives a department sets for itself.
- Some techniques which are currently being
used successfully: portfolio presentations, competency exams
(nursing, pass/fail), entrance/exit exams, capstone courses.
- As a system, we have a wide diversity of
students, from the traditional 18-23 year old's and to the 35
year old who might be returning after raising a family or working
for a number of years. The latter will bring with him/her a variety
of experiences such as on-the-job training.
- There is agreement that, credits can be,
and are being given for the specific, measurable skills/competencies,
such as language skills.
- We are not talking about testing out of
a whole degree program. Specific courses may be waived or unit
credit given towards a particular degree or GE requirement but
not towards a whole degree. This way, students will still have
the experiences provided by on-campus interaction which is considered
CSU-wide standards of demonstrated
- Yes, there are areas of knowledge, skills,
and competencies that can be assessed, but not piecemeal but holistically.
- It may not be possible to create a CSU-wide
instrument, given the diversity and differences in student body
make-up across the campuses. Assessment must be local and perhaps
unique to each institution.
- Emphasis was placed on communication skills,
especially writing as being critical areas for assessment. But
- We agreed that assessment may be useful
to enhance our instruction, perhaps to demonstrate accountability,
but should it also be used for testing students out?
- The process for developing standards for
these categories should cut across disciplines, avoid fragmenting
assessment into discrete disciplines, and be developed by faculty
on each campus.
- One group reached consensus to support
the following systemwide learning objectives:
- The ability to communicate effectively,
through a variety of means.
- The ability to read analytically and think
critically at a high level.
- The ability to locate, analyze, evaluate,
and synthesize information.
- The ability to integrate knowledge across
- The ability to make both qualitative and
- The ability to work effectively in group
- The ability to appreciate and value cultures
other than one's own. (recommended rewording to 'The ability to
understand and compare cultures other than one's own.')
- This group suggested adding a few systemwide
- career competency and participation.
- creativity and aesthetics
- leadership in the context of group learning,
collaboration, teamwork and team management.
- This group did not reach consensus on the
following systemwide learning objectives:
- The ability to participate in a democratic
- The ability to speak, read, and write in
a language other than English.
- The ability to value one's own self and
the communities of which one is a part, to make moral and ethical
decisions, and to act in a socially responsible manner.
Learning Objectives for each degree
- General agreement that determining learning
objectives would be helpful for students. This would help faculty
clarify their teaching goals and strategies while better education
- This forces an evaluation of courses, and
may allow faculty to see "holes" in their course plan.
- Forces faculty to take a broader look at
objectives and how they relate to specific programs.
- Would help define what CSU is to external
- "One size" objectives do not
- It is difficult to get consensus among
faculty on these objectives
- This could limit the creativity of students
- "Learning objectives" rather
than "core competencies" are too shallow -- Needs to
be more specific.
- Updating catalogs are a continual problem
- Many outcomes are not evidently achieved
by students until well after the end of class and in encounters
with "real life" situations.
- The [Cornerstones] report devalues and
misunderstands what occurs in a "lecture-discussion"
class. Active learning takes place through reading and writing
assignments and lectures and discussions supplement other activities.
- New pedagogies are supported uncritically
as a panacea for all educational problems. The report needs to
recognize the value of multiple pedagogies.
- Language like "seat time" used
negatively needs to be rethought. The Monterey campus found that
seat time is essential to the educational process.
- Faculty should be involved in changing
the manner of teaching from lecture mode, if necessary they should
be required to attend workshops or share research or have demonstrations
- We should encourage a student committee
or group to summarize the best practices of courses they have
taken with active learning and an evaluation of the process by
- Active learning should be all through the
curriculum, "as appropriate".
- Need to reduce the risk or exposure of
faculty when trying new things, for evaluations by students, because
students may have to do more work and even though they learn more
they may rate such courses lower.
- There should be continuous objective assessment
of all forms of active learning to see which have better results,
including assessment by both faculty and students.
- That the CSU should provide opportunities
for active learning, and is in fact already doing so, often in
the major or field of study. Nevertheless, the group agreed that
such opportunities should not be made a requirement.
How best to provide students active
- Techniques: higher ordered thinking, involvement,
schedule laboratories, structured changes. Getting students to
participate. Not as much lecturing. Do they learn as much in
lecturing as with other methods?
- Educate faculty in techniques of problem-based
or active learning in workshops like those the CSU held last summer.
- CSU Learning Institutes were good in teaching
faculty problem based learning.
- Faculty must be able to experiment without
risk. (RTP consequences, etc.)
- Student group member recommended that a
group of students work with faculty in developing active learning
classes (best practices). Some liked idea.
- Involve students in "best practices"
active learning discussions
- Consensus was that we should encourage
students to take a more active role in their learning.
- Must focus on advising as a necessary component
for such efforts.
- Self-paced and self-directed study could
be appropriate for certain competencies within disciplines more
- Consensus that negotiating an academic
plan is a good idea.
- Disagreement with a perceived philosophical
viewpoint that students are "customers" or "consumers."
- Acknowledgment that faculty can be traditional
and reluctant to change.
Student Community Service Learning
and Capstone Courses
- Service learning should be encouraged,
but may or may not be related to the field of study and would
require resources at the university level.
- Projects are very valuable. Writing a
report, making a presentation, dealing with current issues, are
all important. Departments can decide which kinds of activities
will qualify. Students should do more than one project.
- There was agreement that a capstone would
be desirable within the major with no new units if there is assurance
of adequate financial backing, with a choice of project as appropriate.
Not one thing for everyone in every discipline.
- Graduate programs must have a capstone
course. Undergraduate programs don't need them.
- Problem: 18 - 22 year olds may need to
do community service. What about an engineer at Intel, or a housewife
who has been a Girl Scout leader? Is this age appropriate?
- Students should be encouraged in a community
service learning project prior to graduation, not necessarily
related to their field of study.
Funding, Roles, and Rewards
- Many comments on the state of our buildings-
the lack of proper heating, lighting, or technology.
- The current reward system emphasizes research
and publications and not creative or innovative teaching. Consequently,
faculty often pay less attention to student concerns than are
needed. Faculty attitudes need to be changed.
- There are not enough established ways to
help faculty learn new pedagogies. Reassigned time, workshops,
and summer programs require money.
- CSU has not remained competitive at a time
when enrollment in higher education is growing. Others seem to
deliver education more compatible with student needs.
- The state will have to address its higher
education needs at some future time. Yes, we can do more with
less but only up to a point. It is unrealistic to expect us to
meet the demand with available resources.
Access and Partnerships with the
- Create broader partnerships with industry,
with community colleges, and government.
- CCC's must be the remedial education vehicle,
not the CSU
- CSU needs to offer classes more accessible
to students who work.
- The process must be faculty driven
- Change the faculty mix by creating incentives
for early retirement- not the current policy which is destructive
to programs-- but encourage total retirement. Hire back only tenured
faculty who can meet today's challenges.
- Embrace year-round scheduling.
- Cluster some CSU campuses to offer joint
- Early admission of high school students
- As long as FTES is the driving force for
funding, partnerships are not feasible.
- There is a great potential to use extended/continued
education to increase flexibility for students. Even though fees
may be higher for students, it may be worth the needed time to
degree and increased access that results.
- We must break out of the rigid structures
that inhibit movement toward increased flexibility and student-oriented
learning because change is necessary to accommodate the expected
wave of students.
- Embraces funding flexibility, including
- Yes- programs should be allowed more flexibility
of scheduling to meet student needs.
- There is a great deal of flexibility within
the CSU system: it varies from program to program or campus to
- Faculty/departments/schools that are innovative
should be rewarded. We need incentives/ rewards.
- System needs to support flexible scheduling.
Student services and other non-teaching personnel must be supported
if they are to assist implementation of flexible scheduling.