By Katie Oglesby, Editor-in-Chief
President Bob Iuliano began the faculty meeting Thursday with a reminder of the Ken Burns film festival happening this upcoming week. He also noted that the College received a record number of applications during this year’s admissions process.
Student Experience Survey
Discussion turned over to the motion put forth for the Student Experience Survey (SES) to replace the Common Course Evaluation (CCE). If the motion passes, students will take the SES beginning in fall 2023.
The decision to create a new course evaluation form came from concern over bias in course evaluations, and discussions over the past three to four years, according to the faculty members bringing forth the motion.
They explained that the SES has a number of differences from the CCE, including revised language, the removal of “omnibus” ratings, a bias awareness statement, solicitation of written feedback prior to the corresponding rating, a friendlier tone, and the inclusion of a question about the student’s anticipated grade in the course. They also will ask that professors play a video of the instructions, rather than have the professor read it themselves.
In spring 2022, they did a pilot of the survey with 27 tenured faculty volunteering to participate. Those bringing forth the motion noted that this may have caused selection and novelty bias.
They explained that the participants felt mostly positive about the survey, though the main concern was that it took longer to complete. The median time to complete the CCE was four minutes and the median time to complete the SES was nine minutes. They also noted that a higher amount of students wrote anything in response to the questions, and that those who did wrote, wrote more, when compared to previous CCE surveys.
A vote will be made on this motion at the next meeting.
Proposed Curriculum Changes
A motion entered the floor about the curriculum changes discussed at length last semester. The Curriculum Review Committee (CRC) explained the recommendation to revise the curriculum back in 2019 and 2020, and said that the Board of Trustees has allocated $1 million to the implementation of the new curriculum.
This curriculum will replace the Gettysburg Curriculum, and will begin with students in the class of 2028.
The proposed curriculum includes four seminars under the category of Gettysburg Seminars: first-year writing, first-year data, communities and change (for sophomores), and reflection and integration (for seniors). Students will also be required to take four course in perspectives and social change, including one course on the topic of identities and cultures, one course on race, powers, and equities, and two in a non-native language. Students will be required to take five courses, one in each of the following disciplines: arts, formal sciences, humanities, natural sciences (lab), and social science.
The current Gettysburg Curriculum requires 13-14 total credits, where this one requires 12.
Iuliano opened discussion on the first-year seminar portion of the curriculum.
Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies Ian Isherwood, who served as the director of the first-year seminar program for two years, explained that he sees the value of the program in helping to “shepard and mentor new students.” He noted that it requires a “unique skill set” to teach these courses.
Isherwood said that he may offer an amendment to the curriculum decoupling first-year seminars from first-year writing and first-year data. He said that the first-year seminars should be taught by professors excited to teach them. He explained that first-year writing and first-year data could be taught through other courses with a low course number, so that first-years would be able to take them.
He asked why the “uniqueness and passion” of the current first-year seminar program cannot be maintained.
A representative of the CRC said the reason they designated the first-year writing and first-year data requirement to be taught through two separate seminars in the first-year would be to create a common pathway and to have “multiple high impact touchpoints for students.”
Chair of the history department and associate professor of history Dina Lowy said she had concern about numbers and staffing—a point a few other faculty members brought up over the course of the last few months—and requested that they redo the survey to determine how many faculty members would be interested in teaching these courses. Another professor recommended doing this survey at the departmental level.
Distinguished Teaching Award
Provost Chris Zappe awarded the Award for Distinguished Teaching to psychology professor Kathy Cain.
An earlier version of this article’s headline incorrectly stated that the faculty meeting occurred on February 3, 2023 (-K. Oglesby).