GenEd Sustainability Learning Outcomes (SLO) Committee Meeting
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Jeffords 326, 9:30-10:30am


  1. Faculty Senate presentation (Nov 11) debrief
  2. Organization of SLO committee into sub-committees:
  • SLO assessment
  • SLO review committee structure and implementation
  • SLO participating in the overall general education implementation


In attendance: Deane Wang (co-chair), Lisa Watts Natkin, Tarah Rowse, Christine Vatovec, Allan Strong, Laura Webb, Brian Lee

Not in attendance: Laura Hill Bermingham (co-chair), Rycki Maltby, Sam Ghazey, Marilyn Lucas, Wendy Verrei-Berenback, Stephanie Kaza, Sand Wurthmann, Leon Walls

  • Presented to the faculty senate on Monday
  • Not too many comments
  • University President was impressed - great thing, moving forward
  • One third of senators are new this year
  • We are looking to an April faculty Senate vote
  • We presented the background, the learning outcomes, the resources available, and the blog site

Three part strategy to informing the community
  1. Members of this committee reaching out to their departmental areas
  2. Comment blog
  3. Early spring open forum (announced through the faculty senate)

We’re hoping these three mechanisms are enough. Probably will not close comment period until a few weeks after the open forum in the spring. We will move forward to work on implementation at that point.

Allan: Would it make sense to do a UVM-wide email?

Deane: Yes, probably Gary Derr is the access point to that. Don't want to overuse, but if the University is receptive then yes.

Christine: "News you should know"- would that be a place?

Brian Lee: Things that come from the Dean within engineering are actually better than coming from the University.

Deane: Whatever University mechanism we use will be on top of the departmental side of things. At the departmental level there needs to be a discussion about whether the SLO will be covered in the curriculum within the department or whether students need to go outside of the curriculum and need to take an elective outside of the department.

Laura Webb: What will the vote in April be?

Deane: The vote will be that these learning outcomes are official for the University. Probably structured - starting fall 2014. Needs to be met by the time students graduate so there is four years to work on it.

Allan: If we went along the lines of categorizing courses, like we do for diversity (D1/D2), would we say you meet so many of the learning outcomes?

Deane: We have a software system (CATS) so I would imagine that the solution is you do one course. There would be some mechanisms. CATS - University software for undergraduate that checks all students in terms of satisfying requirements.

Deane: Do we as a committee have the data to understand does the institution have the capacity to meet this requirement? Do you know currently how many students will be able to meet the requirement already? How many students would need to do something different than now? Data collection task that is on the table.
  • We've demonstrated that the capacity exists but not necessarily from a numbers point of view.
  • General area of concern is that this is an "unfunded mandate"
  • There's a cost to having new courses or more seats in current classes, how do we do this?

Brian Lee: In terms of IBB how are we dealing with the bean counting and how does this play in to the SLO process?

Deane: Balance between student credit hours (75%) and students in the program (25%). This formula is being discussed. Some challenges in this area.

Subcommittees Discussion

1. Assessment subcommittee. Come up with options for assessment. Then work through the broader committee. Assessment models will need resources outside to fund the work.

2. SLO review committee - individual course review, also proposals from majors (diversity review committee is an example) from a student point of view we would need to identify which co-curricular activities would count (i.e. eco-reps), maybe some study abroad programs would be reviewed. Would faculty members need to review some aspects? Consultants? Indvidual appeals for approval of SLO. Burden of work. Subcommittee is thinking about the structure and the responsibilities. Needs to be a central function of the University.
  • How often do programs need to go over re-review? (Subcommittee would address this question and recommend something.) DCRC does a five year cycle.
  • The assessment folks have to think about what data are collected and if we are not succeeded then maybe the review committee needs to adapt their process.

3. Overall GenEd Implementation Participation - the university is doing GenEd and SLO should fit in to this and work in this space and support the structure building

Deane: Capacity question
Reached out to ENVS1, NR1, and ENSC1. ENVS1 would meet all four. The others would not.

Come up with a hypothetical set of courses that could be meeting the SLOs now or could be tweaked. Then reach out to them and see if they are meeting them. Tweaks or major revisions?

DCRC - there is a list of eight and they have to meet some of them. They are not expected to meet all eight of them. Content needs to sufficient to meet some of them. Not outcome based, they are area of content based.

Deane: My own particular bias is for the students to meet all four. SLOs are about ability.

Four out of four SLOs should be met. Unanimous!

Not necessarily equally. Distribution of students.

Assessment committee - do we want 80% of students meeting all four goals? or do we want students meeting goals at an 80% level? what is success?

Allan: Where do we stand in terms of reaching out to departments? Could there be some sort of an informal survey done at the unit level? Could reps going out to units poll faculty?

Using lists developed through Office of Sustainability STARS list to reach out to faculty to figure out capacity? Can this capacity question be a task of the Office of Sustainability supported with additional funding from the Provost?

Survey of existing capacity. Faculty with identified courses. Secondary function of making those faculty more aware of the SLO. This would be going out to the faculty most invested.

Deane: Who wants to be on what committee?

Christine wants to be on the general education general committee and would help the structure/review committee.

Marilyn and Brian Lee would be good for the structural review committee.

Lisa Watts Natkin want to be on the assessment committee

Allan - assessment

Laura Webb - review

Deane: Not really setting any deadlines now. Although, it would be good to have some of the structure/assessment stuff done to support the April proposal and vote.

Wendy might be helpful on the assessment committee.

Deane and Laura will set-up the committees.

The blog is live.