Academic Senate: Master Course Syllabi changes still under scrutiny

Global Campus and the Registrar's Office had a chance to weigh in on restructuring the Master Course Syllabi at Tuesday's Academic Senate meeting.

During the second round of discussions, A-Senate members were worried restructuring the documents would affect how transfer credits are compared to other schools and how faculty members teach online classes.

"We would need some description," said Registrar Karen Hutslar. "Sometimes it's nice to have the detail in the syllabus to help compare the classes."

A-Senate is trying to compact master course syllabi into an overarching master course description for each class to simplify the documents for professors teaching the courses.

Hutslar said some course descriptions are important, but she wonders how different the proposed course descriptions actually would be.

"Sometimes if it's less clear, we work with the department to get a full syllabus," she said. "I don't know that I fully understand what goes into a master course description. We would figure that out if this does go forward."

Peter Ross, Global Campus vice president, said the master course syllabi documents are used to license Central Michigan University's online classes in other states. The syllabi documents are also used to determine what is taught in a course and if the course meets state standards.

"The more detail in the master course syllabi and the more it is followed by the faculty member teaching that course, it is extremely beneficial," Ross said. "I can't really speak for whether the level of detail in the master course description will have an affect because we're not in that situation."

Ross said there are potential negative consequences for Global Campus's licensing in other states. He believes if officials change to a master course description, the departments will have to renew those descriptions every five years to keep in compliance with licensing.

"What would be beneficial is date stamping the master course descriptions," he said. "Revisions will be in line with department reviews every five years. Five or 10 years down the road, it would be beneficial to have something dated 2020 instead of 2015 to show that we're up to date."

Representatives from the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee said they are against changing the master course syllabi.

The committee helps review the master course syllabi documents and returns them to the departments for corrections.

"No master course syllabi has been flat out rejected," said Tanya Domina, a member of the UCC. "(A master course description) would further compound the information. Without the course syllabi, we'll be back to nit-picking."

Domina said the master course description would add the methodology of faculty back in. She said this is already a common thread throughout the master course syllabi documents.

"(Methodology) was removed in 2009," Domina said. "(It had) become standard language. It was meaningless. Why include it if it's standard?"

Despite multiple discussions on the topic, A-Senate did not come to an agreement on restructuring master course syllabi. The group plans to vote on the proposed changes at the March 4 meeting.

A-Senate's next meetings will be moved to Brooks 176, as opposed to its regular meeting room in Pearce 138.


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