Monday, July 19, 2010

Notes on the July Regents Meeting (Committee on Educational Policy)

By Sara Smith

UC Regents Meeting: Committee on Educational Policy, 7/14/2010, 9:35 a.m., UCSF-Mission Bay Campus

I. BOARS Report:

The Chair of this committee, Sylvia Hurtado, is a professor of Education at UCLA. She’s been on the committee for the past six years and is stepping down. The BOARS commmiteee recently issued “Comprehensive Review in Freshman Admissions at the University of California, 2003-2009.” According to the committee, the report “is a thorough and valuable review of admissions practices on all of the campuses and it offers a number of recommendations for refining campuses processes to the meet the guidelines for Comprehensive Review.” Below are some of the notes I took during Sylvia Hurtado’s presentation.

• More underrepresented minorities have become UC eligible. Relative admit rate for African Americans remained substantially below admit rate for other minorities.

• Davis and Santa Barbara have managed to attract high proportion of underrepresented minorities.

• UCSD: least amount of growth in terms of recruiting underrepresented minorities.

• Disparate impact ratios, 2009-2010: group with highest admit rate: African Americans fall below group with highest admit rate. 71% for African Americans, 100 percent for Asian, 90 percent for Chicano/Latino, 97% of white.

• There are 12 recommendations:

o (note: I typed out some of the recommendations, but couldn’t get them all. You can find all the of the recommendations on pgs. 48-49 of the report).

o 1. Campuses should implement individualized review of all applicants to ensure that the boundary between admission and denial is not defined by criteria that are too narrow.

o 2. Additional resources should be provided to admissions offices to train and retain external readers and experienced staff, to handle the increased volume of applications, and implement outreach.

o 3. Revision of the comprehensive review guidelines. More specificity in use of standardized test scores and academic criteria in the context of factors that impact performance (e.g. access to honors courses, college-going culture of the school).

o 4. Revision of the guidelines to reflect changes for 2012.

o 5. New principles to further guide selection.
 Weighing academic accomplishments and personal achievements comparably to identify students who strive for excellence in many areas; giving priority to ELC students; evaluating standardized tests and academic indices in the context of other factors; taking steps to ensure the quality and integrity of the review process.

o 6. UC should document and report outstanding personal accomplishments of admitted students to reflect many areas of excellence at the University.

o 7. Now that electronic data about high schools can be shared more widely, campuses should make more use of info about achievements in the high school context in decision-making

o 8. BOARS will consider wider use of ratings and scores that capture many dimensions of talents among all applicants, as well as a common scoring method.

o This report details a disturbing persistence of low African American admit rates across UC campuses, which now is affecting the educational climate. The University should invest in a new strategic outreach campaign to increase the identification, recruitment, and academic preparation of underrepresented students with the help of distinguished alumni, local communities, and schools. In addition, campuses should develop admission policies that place value on the importance of diversity to enhancing the learning environment as they prepare students to enter a diverse workforce. Finally, we recommend the formation of a new study group to collaborate with BOARS to assess the situation in California high schools and determine how UC can use its expertise to diminish the academic achievement gap and disparities due to opportunity for African Americans and other under-represented groups.

II. Undergraduate online instruction project

• Panel: Dean Christopher Edley; Daniel Greenstein, Vice Provost; Doquyen Tran Taylor, Analyst.

• Dean Edley did all of the talking. Below are most of the points he made during his presentation, as well as some of the Question and Answer period afterward. You’ll note that much of the language he uses has a social justice ring to it – he talks about preserving quality education, delivering on the Master Plan, increasing access (but not affordability), “democratizing excellence,” UC online education “serving California,” etc. But he also emphasizes the use of Grad Student Instructors, without being specific about the extent to which GSIs would be used, numerous times. He also underscores that developing a completely online UC Degree would be less costly than building more campuses or expanding current campuses to keep up with demand for a UC education. At the end the Regents, for the most part, expressed very enthusiastic support for the online pilot program, emphasizing how the UC should take “leadership” on the issue and this represents the “future,” and told the” nervous” faculty to take leadership as well. They also emphasized that the Academic Senate would have a full review process.

o UC credits – the same academic standards, course approval process, use of UC faculty and GSIs

o Fully online, as opposed to online educational tools added to face-to-face education. Advantage of online education is that it’s anytime, anywhere and asynchronous. Most important that it’s “high touch.” This is not the technology in which you stick a couple of camcorders in back of classroom, record it, and put up on web, beyond that, high production values. Wrapping multimedia presentation on the web with a set of experiences between the student and the faculty, the student and faculty, the student and the GSI, and among the students, some of which can be held in real time… desktop video conferencing for instance.

o Education and curriculum working group of UCOF has never met in person. All video conferencing.

o There are opportunities for chatrooms and discussion boards in which the professor could specify discussion topic, give students window of 48 hours to make comments, to respond to comments, have that participation graded by GSIs, opportunities for self assessment and on and on.

o Use all of the strengths of social networking software, all of the tools our students year by year are increasingly familiar with.

o We’re already doing a lot of fully online instruction at the UC. Slide: in 2009/10: UC Extensions offered 1250 fully online courses, 78 bearing UC credit on a campus; enrolled 55,229 students in online courses, 4,887 of them in UC credit bearing courses.

o Carrying credit for transferring purposes. Treated like courses at community colleges.

o “We are in this business already. There’s a lot of experience to be leveraged as we think about what kind of future we want.”

o SETTING: figures prepared by Nathan Brostom and his staff. A decade from now the budget gap will have grown to 4.7 billion dollars on an annual basis… 4.7 billion dollar budget gap comes along with a 46,000 student enrollment gap relative to goals of the master plan.

o Imperatives: preserve quality, expand access, durable business model.

o ‘elite’ access? “We want excellence, not exclusivity. But budget crunch plus the bricks and mortar model threaten excellence while increasing exclusivity.

o Social justice considerations: chief among them is the question of access, of how well we perform in our role as an opportunity business, as an engine of opportunity… we have a bricks and mortar model for doing that, and we are excellent at it. The question is for the future how can we be excellent, in terms of finances, the demographic pressure to serve more students, the technology developments that create competition for the current model?

o Delivering on Master Plan – figure out how to serve more people and provide more diversity.

o “We can’t treat the excellence of the UC that we protect and we polish, whoever can get in it, boy are they lucky.”

o If all we do in the years ahead is take that little jewel box and put it on a higher.. shelf we’re betraying our mission.

o If we’re just making it less accessible, excellent but exclusive. “To me that’s a noxious form of elitism.”

o The reason to bother with commitment to fully online classes, first and foremost is about DEMOCRATIZING EXCELLENCE, maintaining excellence. Chief one is, if we can provide sufficient quality, then can we make our product, this great privilege available more broadly.

• Purpose of pilot program is to shed light on six basic questions

• Excellence? Can we deliver an equally valuable form of excellence?

• Pilot: focus on 25-40 highest demand, lower division courses, mostly gen ed courses, courses that have impaction problems.. If we do the best we can… will it be good enough to ‘double down on this investment.’ To make it an increasingly critical part of what we do to serve California in the future.

• We’re not alone re: online ed. At undergrad level the only people offering degrees are in the private sector: phoenix, capella, Kaplan, etc.

• There are NO SELECTIVE undergraduate fully online degree opportunities. The question is, when will those opportunities be available?

• The goal of enrollment at Merced is 11,000 student FTE. If we try to address 45,000 student enrollment gap for the next decade by creating another Merced, the traditional bricks and mortar investment would be 1.8 billion… investment in infrastructure. By comparison the cost of ginning up the apparatus to serve 25,000 students through today’s existing online strategies would be 25 million dollars… for a relatively small additional investment, we would be able to create something quite substantial considering student demand. (note: don’t depend on these numbers; I could’ve made a mistake. He skipped ahead rather fast here. The basic message to take away is that Edley emphasized how much more costly it would be to build more ‘bricks and mortar’ campuses, and that online education is MUCH cheaper).

• In a bricks and mortar campus, you have the ongoing cost of doing business, the prospect of more red ink. If you create an online strategy once you’ve created it, instead of costs, you have continuing stream of revenue. Our model suggests at 25,000 students, you’d be talking about 180 million of net revenues after all expenses, but not including financial aid.

• The base line: campus based incremental evolution [re: use of online educational tools] is going to continue… That’s not what we’re talking about. What we want to add is this pilot program that will specifically be designed and evaluated about our future strategy. Online degrees are not on the table today or in the immediate future. Some of us talk about online degrees because it’s important to have some idea of where you might want to go.

• It’s easier to raise money if you point toward a complete picture rather than point to where we’re going 6 mos. from now.

• All of these decisions are the domain of the ACADEMIC SENATE. They are the guarantor of academic quality.

• This distinguishes what the UC does from what peer institutions have done, somewhat unhappily.

• The UC Commission on the future will have some recs for you in this space, you have them listed there. They include endorsement of pilot project, and encouragement of evolutionary developments on campus.

• But we should move on the online project expeditiously. Let’s not make this a five year exercise.

• Let me close with four quick thoughts. There’s a role with UCOP but not about what’s happening at campuses naturally…

• In any cases, we’re not talking about building bureaucracy in Oakland. All of the work is done on the campuses by faculty and by the administrators.

• The second point is that I don’t think we can wait to do this. A lot of things have to fall into place to be as great in 10 years as we are today.

• As important, if we’re as great as we keep saying we are, we should really be leaders in this area.

• As a research university, we have opportunity not just to mimic what others are doing, but take leadership…

• Finally, virtues of failure: I prefer to be overly ambitious and fall short. That’s one of the reasons I talk about where this might evolve, rather than what the easy next two steps are.

• Given pressure facing the University, we have to be willing to be somewhat ambitious. We need to face risk of failing. That doesn’t mean you’re being reckless.

• “thank you (si, se puede)” on last slide.

Question and Answer:

Yudof: we’re committed to raising the money externally. We don’t have the money internally. … I think it’s worth an experiment. I have a feeling some people are afraid it might succeed. We’re going to go to our own faculty with an internal competition and they will come forward… regular senate processes and approval will be there, and hopefully we’ll develop a list of courses, and we’ll see what develops. I think it’s a very conservative approach to this, operating internally in this way, seeking outside funding... its’ that coalition of the willing. I’m very enthusiastic about it. In particular, I think dean Edley has thought about it rather hard. This is not a heavy hand…. I support it and I hope you will as well.

REGENT Blum: I’d like to congratulate Chris and all those who have worked on this project. …supportive. “we can’t keep teaching the way they did 200 years ago. Knowing people even in remote countries who have gotten a good education this way, it doesn’t work everywhere, but it certainly can work in a lot of places… fully supportive going forward.”

REGENT Varner: some thought about blending this, some requirement of some actually campus experience. If we do something like that.. this is something we should pursue.. may be a way to blend that.

DEAN Edley’s response: excellent points. Obviously we’re talking about a situation quite far down the road, if this moved to be at scale. Let me just make one comment. That would have significant attractions from an educational standpoint. On the other hand, you’d also be giving up some things. Students would get some campus action, but on the other hand, to the extent that this new population to which we’re trying to provide access would face difficulties because they couldn’t do part time, it would be harder to do part time, they would have substantially greater cost for on campus program.. qualified students who prefer to stay in their communities rather than travel to santa cruz because they’re phobic about banana slugs. Joke.

REGENT GOULD: I want to second what Yudof said. It is not the answer, it’s just one of the things we need. “fundamentally it comes down to leadership.” “UC should be in a leadership position.” I want to encourage the board to move forward, to pursue outside funding, we’ll learn more, and we’ll be back.

REGENT LANSING: I enthusiastically endorse this for many reasons… Nobody has been able to “lead in the way we have the opportunity to lead.” “I hear a certain nervousness” from faculty. The thing that makes me comfortable is that this is a pilot program. We’re not saying it works for every subject. .. we’re saying to faculty YOU make sure.. “all the quality rests with the faculty.” “This is something we need to do right away.”

Another REGENT: confident that “faculty will reign you in when they feel it’s appropriate.”

REGENT Marcus: “I’m very concerned about this. I think it’s very faddish. It could be everything wants to talk about, we need to approach this like any other research project. We have to do a research project like you would if you were given a grant, .. what will be OMMITTED if you use this methodology… you may receive only a portion of the total experience. When it comes to a vote we should have facts, not opinions, on this experience.”

EDLEY’s response: agrees that it’s important to use research and ev. Joint senate-administration advisory committee to design evaluation component of this, so we know we’re asking the right questions. Second point is that history will tell us if this is a fad. “This is where I think the future is leading.” “The last thing I want to say when you talk about missing parts of the experience. That’s a really critical point. Yeah, there won’t be beer bashes. There will be other stuff, like you can stay home with your kid. There’s a tradeoff. There are other things that we consider part of core learning, and we have to investigate whether or not those things that produce quality.. try to understand carefully what that means,… investigate whether or not we can improve on it. If the quality that we want is to be able to talk to the grad student instructor. Can we do that online? Absolutely. You can probably do more of it, more often, any time, any place. Understand what professor said? Can you get that online? Probably, you can hit replay. It’s going to be different. So the question of if the experience will be the same.”

REGENT REISS: supportive, confident that because dean edley is heading this up quality of online education will be ensured.

FACULTY REP Powell: The academic council of the senate blessed the pilot project several months ago subject to raising funds from private sector. We’re very much in agreement about the experience of the blended learning. All through this academic year vice provost Greenstein at identifying successful efforts at grassroots so we don’t have bad experience that other institutions have had with this.

EDLEY: (video you can watch about online education). Faculty as “guide on the side,” not “sage on the stage.”

REGENT Eddie Island: saying to Faculty: “lead this effort, stay engaged, embrace it, it’s the kind of change that will come to be seen in the future as a critical tipping point.”

III. Other misc. items discussed during this session.

• UCSB Chancellor gave a presentation about developments on that campus, and then a regents spent some time complementing the chancellor.

• There’s a new student regent.

• Victor Sanchez, head of UCSA, gave his last speech to the regents. Emphasized his support for AB540 (financial aid for undocumented students); expressed concern and skepticism about online education project; expressed support for “holistic” approach to admissions (relying on personal statements and other indicators aside from test scores and GPAs); said something brief about UCOF (didn’t write this down).

• Fall admissions: diversity slight up across the board at the UC, though only VERY slight for African Americans and American Indians. Freshman enrollment of Latino students up as well.

o Higher proportion of out-of-student and nonresident students, more transfer students, and more low-income students. Chancellor Birgeneau at UC Berkeley said that higher fees have led to more financial aid, which has directly resulted in higher enrollment of low-income students.

o No discussion of retention rates, little discussion of how to improve.


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