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Faculty Senate » 2011-2012 Annual Report

Baccalaureate Core Committee

Annual Report

To: Faculty Senate Executive Committee
From: Bill Bogley and Kerry Kincanon, Baccalaureate Core Committee Co-Chairs
Date: July 15, 2012
Re: 2011-2012 Baccalaureate Core Committee (BCC) Annual Report

The BCC membership list included fourteen faculty members from a cross-section of OSU’s campus, ex-officio members from WIC and DPD, and two student members. A complete and accurate membership list can be found at

The BCC maintained an active meeting schedule.
Fall Term Eight meetings (includes a Finals Week retreat)
Winter Term Three meetings
Spring Term Five meetings
Minutes for all meetings can be found at, except for the fall term Finals Week retreat on December 8, 2011. At the retreat, we worked on idea generation relative to the revised Category Review Process and Baccalaureate Core Assessment (see Activities section). No minutes were taken at the retreat.

Course Approvals
The BCC reviewed and approved thirty-three courses during the course of AY 2011-2012. At our first two meetings, the BCC established a Course Review Process (Appendix A) that outlined our approach to course reviews. Thirty-one of these courses have been officially added to the core. Two courses are still pending Curriculum Council approval. There were three courses that were submitted prior to the end of AY 2011-12 that are pending BCC review. The following table illustrates the distribution of course approvals:

Category Courses Notes
Mathematics MTH 241* *The Math department changed this course to add an enforced MTH 111 or appropriate placement prerequisite
Physical Science CH 231, 232, 233, 261, 262, 263, 271, 272, 273 The Chemistry department reconfigured its CH 221, 222, 223 General Chemistry sequence and separated out the lab into a separate credit-bearing course.
Biological Science SOIL 102
Cultural Diversity SPAN 237, HST 391, 392, 396, 397, ART 208*, FR 329, HEBR 231 The History courses were pre-existing in the BC; the unit updated submitted "Change Course" requests to update titles and description to better represent the current tenor and focus of these courses. *Also approved for Literature and the Arts
Literature and the Arts ENG 320, 321, 322, 330, ART 208* *Also approved for Cultural Diversity
Social Processes & Institutions WSE 266* *Pending Curriculum Council Approval
DPD WS 462, PSY 426
Contemporary Global Issues WS 495, PHL 432, AMS 350* *Cascades Campus course
Science, Technology, & Society ENGR 363, NMC 427* *Pending Curriculum Council Approval
WIC* MB 385, H 476 *The BCC co-chairs and WIC director learned recently that there were anomalies with WIC course approvals that made it through the system without review by the WIC director and the BCC. We are working with the Office of Academic Programs to remedy this situation.

AY 2011-2012 BCC Activities

  1. Per recommendations from the Committee on Committees, the BCC spent fall term revising our Standing Rules to reflect more accurately the function and composition of the committee. The revised standing rules, which provide a clearer delineation of committee membership a nd its stewardship of OSU’s Baccalaureate Core via its two primary functions, course proposal review and category review, were approved by the Faculty Senate on April 12, 2012.

  2. One of the recommendations of the Baccalaureate Core Ad Hoc Review Committee (2008-2010) in its final report, Vitalization of General Education at Oregon State University, was a review of Writing in the core. The Executive Committee convened a committee to engage in the review during AY 2011-2012. Dr. Susan Meyers, the Director of the Writing Program at OSU, chaired this group, and she presented findings and recommendations to the BCC on May 21, 2012. The report was subsequently submitted to the Executive Committee with BCC endorsement.

  3. Baccalaureate Core Implementation Director Vicki Tolar Burton implemented new minimum syllabus requirements as devised by the 2010-2011 BCC. Syllabi for Core courses must now include the Category Learning Outcomes, and those outcomes must be assessed. This requirement in now included in the OSU Curricular Policies and Procedures. At the BCC’s recommendation, Dr. Tolar Burton contacted BC faculty before each term to remind them to include and assess the new category outcomes for their BC courses. A Core syllabus template suggested by the 2010-11 BCC should be offered as a tool, but the 2011-12 BCC was hesitant to be overly prescriptive.

  4. The Executive Committee (EC) charged the BCC with resuming the category review process that was temporarily suspended during the Ad Hoc Review, and incorporating evidence of student learning into that process. The charge dovetailed with institutional concern regarding assessment of student learning in the core curriculum. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) accreditation visit in the spring of 2011 yielded a recommendation to further develop assessment efforts in the Baccalaureate Core. It made sense for the Baccalaureate Core category review to be the site from which to launch a strategic campus-wide effort to improve assessment of learning in Baccalaureate Core classes – an effort that addressed both the charge of the EC and the accreditation recommendation. The BCC worked all fall and winter with Vicki Tolar Burton and, upon her arrival in February, Assistant Director of Assessment Stefani Dawn to create a new category review process, which was vetted through several channels (Faculty Senate, Undergraduate Education Council, University Assessment Council, Provost’s Council, and correspondents from several colleges) and ultimately launched spring term with the "Synthesis pilot." The Synthesis categories were chosen to be the first reviewed under the new process. Here are some salient motivating factors, principles, and documents relative to the new process:
    • From the start, the principle of shared governance has guided decisions. Using the BCC process to aid the institution in responding to accreditation recommendations means that the BCC would work closely with Academic Affairs and the Office of Academic Programs, Assessment, and Accreditation. Leaders from those areas helped to create an Assessment Roadmap (Appendix B) to ensure comprehensive attention to the Baccalaureate Core Assessment Process.
    • This was the first year of having defined Baccalaureate Core Category Learning Outcomes. The BCC recognized that institutionalizing those outcomes and the process of assessing them will take time, but piloting the process with Synthesis categories in spring would reignite category review and provide a baseline of assessment data for the accreditation follow-up visit in the fall of 2012.
    • The BCC created a Baccalaureate Core Category Review Course Webform to collect feedback from units on how BC Category Learning Outcomes are being realized in their core classes. The Office of Assessment houses the webform on its website, and Stefani Dawn will help collate information to be presented to the BCC in Fall 2012. The Office of Institutional Research has agreed to gather course demographic info, so the burden for providing that portion of important Category Review data has been shifted from the unit.
    • Stefani Dawn and Vicki Tolar Burton coordinated multiple faculty development workshops on strategies for Baccalaureate Core Category Learning Outcomes assessment. The BCC co-chairs attended most of these workshops, and several BCC members attended as participants.
    • The pilot allows the BCC to shift the category review calendar. Traditionally, category review data was collected in the fall and the review was conducted in the winter and the spring. Now data will be collected throughout the year with a spring deadline, collated in the summer, and the review will be conducted in the fall. Institutional leaders asked the BCC for assistance in creating a timetable for Baccalaureate Core assessment. This was initially posed to the BCC as a Five-Year plan but, after putting that time on paper, the committee unanimously agreed that timeframe was unrealistic. The BCC ultimately landed on a Seven-Year plan. See Appendix C for Assessment Activity by Cycle Year and Appendix D for BCC Category Review Task by Year.

  5. The BCC quickly realized that the Baccalaureate Core question sets in the Curricular Proposal System were inadequate now that the BCC is viewing courses through the lens of student learning and the Baccalaureate Core Category Learning Outcomes. Several proposals were sent back for revisions, in part, because expectations for BCC approval were not being communicated through the questions. The BCC revised these question sets over the course of winter and spring terms and presented the new sets to the Office of Academic Programs at the end of spring term. These new sets are now in the Curricular Proposal System.

  6. Vicki Tolar Burton worked with Central Web Services to develop a comprehensive website dedicated to the Baccalaureate Core. Selected BCC members participated in a web architecture session to develop the design and content framework of the site. This site should be ready for launch in the summer of 2012.

  7. In coordination with the Office of Assessment, the BCC created a voluntary pilot in spring where faculty teaching courses in the Synthesis categories could add questions to the ESET to gather student perceptions of Baccalaureate Core Category Learning Outcomes achievement in the course. Pending review of the pilot, the BCC should work with the Advancement of Teaching Committee and the EC to examine the merits of expanding this voluntary program to a mandatory program of indirect assessment of student learning in the core. Some faculty voices oppose using eSET for assessment but, if eSET is deemed unsuitable for this purpose, the BCC recommends that an alternative means must be identified for incorporating student input into the assessment data stream.

  8. The BCC had several conversations regarding the presence of upper division coursework in Perspectives Categories being at odds with category criteria. At our June 6, 2012 meeting, the BCC voted unanimously to strike the "Be lower division and at least three credits" statement from the criteria of all Perspectives categories and to add the following statement to the criteria for all Perspectives categories: Courses in the Perspectives categories should be accessible to both lower and upper division students. Prerequisites or class-level restrictions for Perspectives courses must not create unreasonable barriers for student seeking to fulfill these categories. The BCC co-chairs subsequently sent a memo to the Executive Committee asking for Senate consideration of this change.
On the Horizon for the BCC in AY 2012-13
  • Potential senate action on proposed change in language to Perspectives Category Criteria.
  • Assist with prioritizing and implementing recommendations from the Review of Writing in the Baccalaureate Core report.
  • Fall Term: Review compliance on First-Year Skills Requirement for 2011-2012 cohort
  • Fall Term: Conduct Category Review of Synthesis
  • Winter/Spring: Outreach related to Synthesis Category Review
  • Coordinate with the Director of Baccalaureate Core Implementation and the Office of Academic Programs, Assessment, and Accreditation on communication surrounding upcoming Category Reviews.