||"UCSC must be an outstanding research university with an uncommon
commitment to high-quality undergraduate education."
UCSC at a Crossroads: Advisory Report of the Millennium Committee, 1998
As numerous planning documents make clear, including the
Millennium Report (September 1998) and our WASC
Report, at UC Santa Cruz we like to think of ourselves as a research
university with an “uncommon commitment” to undergraduate education. We do
not imagine that we have at every moment and in every way fulfilled our
ambition to provide a first-rate education to undergraduate students. Yet,
we are gratified at the recognition given by the visiting committee and by
the WASC commission to both our sincere efforts and our actual successes.
Continuing through Periods of Change
Maintaining our excellence in undergraduate education has
required effort. Enrollment pressures have been great, and, as we outlined
in the first essay, the number of undergraduate students served at UC Santa
Cruz has dramatically increased since the last WASC review. Between 1992-93
and 2002-03, undergraduate enrollment grew by 55 percent, transforming UC
Santa Cruz from a small to a medium-size campus. Fall freshman enrollment in
2003 represented a 62 percent increase over the freshman enrollment of
1997-98. Enrollment growth was concentrated in the period 1997-2002, as
Along with an increase in the size of the undergraduate
student body there have been substantial programmatic changes. The Baskin
School of Engineering was created in 1997. Substantial growth occurred in
the Arts and Social Sciences, and new major programs have been developed in
Physical and Biological Sciences. Enrollments did not grow as rapidly in the
Humanities as in other divisions.
presents a historical view of the growth and development of undergraduate
majors during this period.
Another change for UC Santa Cruz has been a shift in the
way student course work is evaluated. A distinctive feature of UC Santa
Cruz’s early undergraduate programs was the reliance on narrative
evaluations, rather than on summary letter grades, as the principal means by
which faculty reported their assessments of student learning. UC Santa Cruz
had been granted a variance from UC academic policy to allow students to
take all of their classes – rather than just one-third of them – in the
‘Pass/No Pass’ (P/NP) grading system. As a result, no UC Santa Cruz
undergraduate student had a traditional Grade Point Average (GPA). Academic
standing for undergraduate students was defined in terms of minimum progress
toward the degree – a measure of the rate at which they earned credits.
In 1996, a review of the campus’s undergraduate grading
policy by the Academic Senate resulted in the decision that students should
have the option of earning traditional letter grades in all of their classes
in addition to receiving narrative evaluations of their work. Beginning with
the entering class of 1997, students who elected letter grades in at least
two thirds of their credits had a UC Santa Cruz GPA based upon their letter
grades. (Students who elected letter grades in less than two-thirds did not
have a GPA.) The percentage of students requesting letter grades and GPAs
rose steadily after this policy was adopted.
With continued growth in undergraduate enrollment, many
lower division courses grew substantially in size, making it difficult for
faculty to provide personalized narrative evaluations of student work in
large courses. In 1999, the faculty revisited the assessment policy in a
campus-wide debate about the role of the campus grading policy in
perceptions of the academic rigor of our undergraduate program and the value
of the narrative evaluation system. The result was a revision of the grading
policy and a reaffirmation of the narrative evaluation system, reframed as a
performance evaluation system. Performance evaluations now provide context
for the summary letter grade and give supplemental information deemed
relevant by the faculty for the particular course. Beginning with the
entering class of 2001, undergraduates have by default received letter
grades in all courses. The option for requesting P/NP grades has been
limited to one-quarter of a student’s credits, and some majors impose lower
limits. As a result, nearly all of the current students have both term and
cumulative GPAs defined in the traditional way. At the same time, the
standard UC academic
standing regulations were adopted for these students.
In contrast to positive changes in the academic culture of
UC Santa Cruz, there is concern that the quality of undergraduate education
has been strained by enrollment growth and budget cuts. In 2003-04,
shortfalls in state support for the university led to a 13 percent cut to
the permanent budget of the campus. Academic support programs and other
campus units received cuts of this magnitude, though the central
administration managed to limit the immediate effect on direct instructional
programs to an average of three percent at the cost of severely reducing
flexibility for future growth. As a result, we face a budgetary future very
different from the one in which we began the WASC process.
The present essay is organized to address two questions –
one briefly and one in depth. First, we ask: do the data indicate that
recent enrollment pressures and resource limitations have eroded the
excellence of UC Santa Cruz’s undergraduate education? Given the amount of
change in recent years, one may worry about possible erosion in our ability
to maintain our pedagogical traditions. Because the Preparatory Report
devoted substantial attention to the question of our continued excellence,
we touch only briefly on it. The second question, and the one that
preoccupies us, centers around the mechanisms for preserving the excellence
of our undergraduate programs, with an eye to preserving the students’
active engagement in learning.
Have we maintained excellence?
Several indicators suggest that UC Santa Cruz has managed
to come through the period of rapid growth and of diminished resources with
its ability to deliver an excellent undergraduate education still intact.
For example, a visit to the office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
would show that the large majority of external reviews conducted over the
past ten years have praised the undergraduate educations delivered by
different programs. For department after department, teams of visiting
experts note the outstanding programs offered to undergraduates.
The laudatory opinions of visiting experts are by and
large echoed by our own students. Student opinions, taken by themselves, do
not necessarily insure quality; but considered in concert with other data,
they do provide the basis for strong inferences. Furthermore, when the
opinions are gathered by varying methodologies, inferences become
One source of student opinion concerns the assessment of
individual professors and courses. UC Santa Cruz regularly collects
information through mandatory course evaluation. While we have not yet been
able to make systematic use of aggregated data from course surveys in
program assessments, informal inspection of data shows that, by and large,
UC Santa Cruz students appreciate their professors and their courses.
A second source of student opinion comes from the surveys
of graduating seniors mentioned in the previous essay on the campus’s
educational effectiveness approach. The most relevant data on this point are
from the survey of 2004 graduating seniors, which asked students to comment
on their experience in their major programs of study. This data is under
analysis and can be discussed during the February team visit.
A third source of data about student opinion is the
University of California Student Experience Survey (UCUES) administered on
the UC Santa Cruz campus since 2002. As seen in the UCUES materials
Exhibit I, for most of the questions regarding frequency of contact and
satisfaction with the accessibility of faculty, including for career
advising and other non-academic matters, UC Santa Cruz students score above
the general UC average. We anticipate UCUES will continue to provide a way
to monitor these indicators of effectiveness.
A final source of data about student opinion derives from
the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), administered to groups of
first year and senior students in the winters of 2000 and 2001. The
responses to individual questions were averaged by the organization
administering the survey to provide scores on five factors relevant to
student engagement: 1) level of academic challenge; 2) active and
collaborative learning; 3) student interactions with faculty members; 4)
enriching educational experiences; and 5) supportive campus environment. For
each factor, composite scores were calculated separately for first year
students and for seniors.
The NSSE data, summarized in Table 1 of
show that, in 19 out of 20 cases, UC Santa Cruz undergraduates express more
satisfaction with their education than do students at other
research-intensive institutions. Furthermore, in terms of the level of
academic challenge and supportive campus environment, freshmen and seniors
in both 2000 and 2001 are all more satisfied than one would predict on the
basis of UC Santa Cruz’s institutional profile. Senior (but not first year)
students in 2000 and 2001 were also above the expected value in their
satisfaction with active and collaborative learning.
Students are notorious for voting with their feet as well
as with their voices. At the time of the last review, the campus was worried
about decreasing enrollments and about a concern among applicants about the
academic rigor of UC Santa Cruz. Today, despite nearly doubling our
undergraduate enrollment to roughly 14,000 students, we are unable to offer
places to all UC eligible applicants. Yield rates for admission have
remained stable, but applications to our campus have increased more rapidly
than to the UC system as a whole.
Retention and Graduation
Our retention and graduation rates are also improving.
While UC Santa Cruz’s most recent first to-second year freshman retention
rates (86 to 87 percent) and most recent four year (48.6 percent) and
six-year (65.4 percent) graduation rates remain below the mean for the UC
system, they are well above the national mean for comparable institutions.
(For example, UC Santa Cruz’s 1996 cohort six-year graduation rate was 67
percent compared to 59 percent for NCAA Division I schools.) See the
Retention and Graduation Update for 2003-04.
A significant indicator of excellence is the diversity of
our student body. Since 1994, the percentage of racial and ethnic minority
students enrolled at UCSC has increased steadily. Several factors may
contribute to UC Santa Cruz’s ability to attract ethnic minority students.
One factor is the changing demographics of the State of California.
Additionally, under the leadership of Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Francisco Hernandez, UC Santa Cruz has implemented early academic
preparation programs to help increase the pool of UC eligible students from
under-represented groups as well as aggressively recruiting applicants from
these groups. The development of new major programs (e.g., engineering
majors and Biomolecular Engineering) has likely had a positive effect on
admissions yield from these groups. (The ending of many formal affirmative
action programs across UC in 1996 has probably also contributed to the
increase in diversity on our campus as students who previously would have
been admitted to the most selective campuses [UCB and UCLA] have found
places at other campuses, including UC Santa Cruz.) We currently have
several programs in place to provide financial and mentoring support to
underrepresented minorities in our undergraduate programs. One example is
the UCLEADS (University of California
Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees) program. UC Leads is a
two-year research and mentor program to prepare disadvantaged undergraduates
in the sciences for graduate school. Finally, UC Santa Cruz’s successful
efforts to attract and retain a diverse faculty
and to incorporate issues of diversity into its curriculum may also
contribute to its reputation as a campus that welcomes students from many
different backgrounds. An indication of success in incorporating the value
of diversity into the educational program at UC Santa Cruz in the results of
the NSSE survey, which revealed that UC Santa Cruz students scored very high
on the NSSE measure of “conversations across difference”.
How can we maintain our excellence?
The principle of “shared governance” in the University of
California dictates that the Academic Senate has jurisdiction over the
criteria for admission, the curriculum, and the criteria for graduation,
while the administration has jurisdiction over resources, human and
otherwise. At UC Santa Cruz the practice of shared governance is stronger
than at many other UC campuses. In the past the UC Santa Cruz administration
and Senate have often attempted to work collaboratively toward the goal of
assuring educational effectiveness. Currently, working very closely
together, the VPDUE and specific Senate committees have identified five
specific foci, attention to which should maintain the excellence and
integrity of undergraduate education. Specifically, over the next 18 to 24
months, we should: a) increase opportunities for research and internships;
b) increase opportunities for early faculty-student interactions; c)
continue to reflect on the senior exit requirements, including the capstone
experience; d) reconsider how to best review and improve the effectiveness
of the General Educational Requirements that all undergraduates must
satisfy; and e) improve academic advising to insure that undergraduates
develop meaningful academic goals and achieve them at UC Santa Cruz.
Increased opportunities for research
The 2003 UC Taskforce on Instructional Activities
reflected (p. 6):
“[T]he hallmark of a research university education at
any level is the experience offered students to participate with faculty
in inquiry-based learning – that is, the ability to put the knowledge
and skills learned in the classroom to use through research, scholarship
and creative discovery…Accomplishing instructional activities in these
settings is both a science and an art. Though the tools for research,
scholarship and creative discovery can often be taught in a
straightforward manner, the thought processes that one uses to address
these challenges are ones that cannot be so easily codified. Rather, the
needed skills, attitudes and approaches must be developed through
mentoring within intense and highly-interactive small-group settings
involving faculty and students, often in one on one intellectual
What the taskforce noted for research opportunities
applies with equal force to internships and field study. Indeed, it is often
difficult to make distinctions between the activities pursued under the
rubrics of ‘research project’, ‘field study’, and ‘internship’. All can
serve the educational objectives of engagement with inquiry-based learning,
application of knowledge and skills in new contexts, and integration of
previous work. Some can also serve the personal and institutional mission of
community service, and provide students with skills and experience useful in
their post-graduate careers.
Since its founding, UC Santa Cruz has actively encouraged
its undergraduates to participate in research and internships. The relative
scarcity of graduate programs in the campus’s first two decades of existence
combined with the faculty’s philosophical commitment to the development of
undergraduate talent, with the result that there were many opportunities for
UC Santa Cruz undergraduates to conduct research with faculty –
opportunities that were usually reserved elsewhere for graduate students.
Although UC Santa Cruz has now significantly expanded its graduate programs,
the institution’s commitment to undergraduates remains high. Indeed, it is
assumed in several programs that effective laboratories include a mix of
undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty and perhaps some post
doctoral scholars, with the graduate students participating in the training
of undergraduates and the undergraduates supporting the research of graduate
students (and often post doctoral students) as well as of faculty. Currently
every academic department offers course credit for research that
undergraduate students conduct with and under the supervision of professors
as well as course credit for internships and field studies. The UC
undergraduate deans are currently developing guidelines for classifying such
courses to allow institutional research to better report on the distribution
of student credits earned in these types of experiences.
Several departments have highly developed field-study
programs. Within the Social Sciences Division, the Community Studies
Department requires all of its undergraduate majors to undertake a
full-time, six-month internship with a community organization, as part of
its core curriculum. Each year the Field Studies Coordinator in the
Psychology Department helps place psychology majors in schools, law
enforcement agencies, corporations, and research organizations, arranging
for each intern to have both a field supervisor and an academic supervisor.
J shows, there are numerous similar opportunities, such as the “Marine
Ecology Quarter”, available to students in the Physical and Biological
Sciences. In addition, in a program that is administered by one of the
residential colleges, the Writing Program places both lower and upper
division students in internships with magazines, newspapers, publishing
houses, and civic organizations.
Today’s undergraduate students make extensive use of the
many opportunities for research with faculty and for internships. From the
NSSE and UCUES surveys, and from the 2003 Survey of Graduating Seniors, it
is clear that our undergraduates have a strong interest in research and
internship experiences. Over 1400 students participate each year in UC Santa
Cruz’s field programs, and it is estimated that UC Santa Cruz students
provide a million person hours a year to organizations in Santa Cruz and
While there is no question about the number of
undergraduate students who wish to take part in research and fieldwork,
there are also strong indicators, but no certainty, of the high impact of
the experiences on student learning. Unlike most institutions, UC Santa Cruz
organizes many of its internships within academic departments rather than
within student services. The supervision of internships within the
departments means that our programs tend to include the characteristics that
are currently thought by the faculty to enhance the academic value of
internships and research experiences for undergraduates [Cf. the report in
The literature on experiential education indicates that
the academic value of internships and research experiences increases when
they meet the following criteria:
- There is structured preparation for the experience
before the students undertake the work.
- The students have structured opportunities for
reflection on their experience.
- There is faculty supervision of the work.
An outcome of this review is our realization that we need
to assess more precisely than we currently do the effectiveness of our field
studies programs in this regard, by asking every department and program to
describe the ways in which its research and field opportunities conform to
the three criteria above. We should also ask departments to document their
successes and failures in terms of research and internship opportunities as
part of their periodic external reviews. We are also seeking to regularly
incorporate questions about participation in, and satisfaction with,
research and field placement in the annual Graduating Senior Survey. Data on
participation and evaluation of the research experience of the 2003
graduates is included in
Hand-in-hand with improved accountability goes improved
coordination. We have identified three ways to improve coordination. First,
some group on campus needs to undertake an annual analysis of the data
provided by the Graduating Senior Surveys and by the departments.
Comparative statistics might help individual departments sustain their
accomplishments even as support services become more taxed. Exactly what
group would undertake the task is not yet clear; perhaps the Office of
Institutional Research would be appropriate, or an ad hoc group of field
studies coordinators. Second, we would like to see research and field
courses systematically categorized by numbering or other designations across
departments to enable students, faculty, and administrators to track
opportunities more easily. Finally, we recommend that the Senate Committee
on Educational Policy work closely with the administration to develop a
system whereby research and field placements arranged through the Career
Center could easily be sorted to identify those that ought to be granted
academic credit. At present, such determinations are made on a case-by-case
basis. Now that UC Santa Cruz has increased its undergraduate enrollments in
these experiences, it is time to systematize the process.
Increase opportunities for early
While research and internship opportunities allow advanced
undergraduate students to have close individual contact with faculty
members, other strategies are needed to ensure that the beginning students
have personal access to faculty members. A natural consequence of the growth
in undergraduate enrollment has been an increase in the size of many
lower-division courses. Although increases have been limited by constraints
imposed by our classrooms, most of the classes taken by first-year students
are large-lecture format courses.
Three strategies help ensure first-year students contact
with individual faculty and staff. Two of the strategies have been in place
for a long time. One is new.
First, most freshman and many sophomores at UC Santa Cruz
live in the residential colleges. One of the goals of the residential
colleges is to facilitate informal interaction between the faculty and
students. The faculty who serve as college provosts devote a good deal of
time to interacting with the students in their colleges. College programming
has also included events which bring students together with faculty in
informal settings: in discussion groups after lectures in the college;
having students invite faculty into their residence halls for informal
discussion; organizing discipline-based “roundtables” where faculty have
dinner with a group of students to discuss their research and career paths;
and working to include faculty and their families in “College Night”
dinners. One outcome of this review is an invitation to the Council of
Provosts to review past efforts and to identify effective tactics for
bringing faculty and students together.
Second, all entering freshman are assured of at least one
small seminar course in their first year. The required college writing
seminars (the “core courses”) in their first term are limited to seminar
sections of 20-24 students. While these courses clearly contribute to the
engagement measured by NSSE for the first-year students, they are primarily
taught by lecturers with expertise in this type of course and not by
permanent research faculty. In addition, by design, the non-disciplinary
character of these classes does not reflect the character of the programs in
which students will eventually do their major work.
Beginning in 2003-04, UC Santa Cruz adopted a third
strategy: the Freshman Discovery Seminar. Modeled on successful programs at
UCB and UCLA, the seminars at UC Santa Cruz provide one or two units of
credit and are taught by research faculty. The objectives of the program are
to enable lower-division students to get earlier exposure to the research
conducted by our permanent faculty in a seminar setting. In 2002-03, 30 such
seminars were offered, and in 2003-04, 37 were offered. An overview of the
program is provided in
In 2004-5, these seminars will be offered again as part of
the pilot program. We anticipate that CEP will review the pilot program this
year. The interim Campus Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor will strongly
encourage the inclusion of such courses in routine curriculum planning by
all division to meet obligations placed on all campuses by UCOP.
Continue to reflect on the senior
exit requirements, including the capstone experience
All undergraduate major programs at UC Santa Cruz are
required by Academic Senate regulations to administer a comprehensive
examination or senior thesis requirement for their students. The current
catalog tells students: “Typically, in your senior year you must satisfy the
comprehensive requirement for your major by satisfactorily completing a
comprehensive examination or an equivalent body of work … [that] reflects
comprehensive understanding of subject matter may be accepted in the place
of a comprehensive examination” (p. 33).
Originally the senior comprehensive requirement was
established to determine that graduates have achieved the program’s outcomes
in the absence of a GPA based on letter grades in course work. In other
words, the historical motivation for senior exit requirements was “quality
assurance.” Only those students who showed that they had mastered the
material of their discipline were allowed to graduate. And, presumably, pass
rates on the comprehensive requirement would be a measure of the program’s
Almost immediately, however, the senior exit requirement
also evolved into something that was meant to contribute to the student’s
education as much as to assess it. The
Boyer report on
undergraduate education in the research university recommended that an
undergraduate degree should culminate with a “capstone experience”. It
provides the following characterization of this notion, now a standard part
of the degree program at many research universities:
- Senior seminars or other capstone courses appropriate
to the discipline need to be part of every undergraduate program.
Ideally the capstone course should bring together faculty members,
graduate students, and senior undergraduates in shared or mutually
- The capstone course should prepare undergraduates for
the expectations and standards of graduate work and of the professional
- The course should be the culmination of the
inquiry-based learning of earlier course work, broadening, deepening,
and integrating the total experience of the major.
- The major project may well develop from a previous
research experience or internship.
- Whenever possible, capstone courses need to allow for
collaborative efforts among the baccalaureate students.
During 2003-04, as part of the WASC review process, the
Committee on Educational Policy conducted a review of the
Comprehensive/Senior Exit Requirement in every academic program. Their
review drew on the data from the 2003 graduating student survey as well as
comments solicited from every department. Their report and an inventory of
the ways in which the requirements may be satisfied in each program
The report shows heterogeneity in the senior exit
requirement. Faculty-supervised senior theses and individual projects are
available in all programs and are often used to satisfy the senior exit
requirement. However, written comprehensive examinations – and eventually
GRE subject exams – have become a common way for students to satisfy the
requirements in programs with large undergraduate enrollments. The CEP
review was, in fact, triggered by requests from some departments who sought
to eliminate it as part of a strategy for coping with balancing the resource
demands of increased undergraduate enrollments with graduate education.
Based upon their review of student and faculty
satisfaction with particular forms of comprehensive/senior exit
requirements, CEP reached a clear conclusion: comprehensive examinations are
the least effective implementations of the senior exit requirement, while
course-based capstone requirements and senior theses were highly valued by
both the students and the faculty. CEP recommends that departments who use
comprehensive examinations consider shifting to some other form of exit
requirement. They further insist that the senior exit requirement be
examined in the regular reviews of major programs as part of external
reviews of departments. Two programs so far have changed or are changing
their assessment mechanism.
Participation by advanced undergraduates in the graduate
curriculum of a related program provides another effective way of enhancing
undergraduate capstone experiences.
Preparation of the required Inventory of Educational
Effectiveness Indicators (Exhibit
E) for the WASC review has permitted us to continue along the lines of
the CEP inquiry. The inventory asks two basic questions:
- Have formal learning outcomes been developed?
- Other than GPA, what measures/indicators are used to
determine that graduates have achieved the stated outcomes for the
degree (e.g. capstone course, portfolio review, licensure examination)?
In the UC Santa Cruz situation, the senior comprehensive
requirement provides a ready response to the second question, at least for
undergraduate degree programs. The chairs of these programs have been
requested to respond to the first question to provide explicit formulations
of the objectives implicit in the design of their degree requirements and
senior comprehensive requirements. An outcome of our reflection in this
review, however, as given rise to some additional questions as we saw a
tension between the use of these assessments as measures of program
effectiveness and as assessments of individual students’ learning:
- How can programs provide capstone experiences in ways
that both enrich the students’ educational experiences and serve as
valid assessments of program success?
- What are the most cost-effective ways to assess
student competence in different disciplines that can also enhance the
students’ perceptions of educational value?
We intend to engage the UC Santa Cruz community in
meaningful discussions about the value of articulating educational outcomes
in overall assessment of learning. We will begin by examining the outcomes
assessed by the various senior comprehensive requirements. With respect to
providing rich capstone experiences, we would like to explore ways in which
advanced graduate students might be enlisted to be further involved in the
undergraduate learning process, to the benefit of both the undergraduate and
the graduate student’s training.
With respect to developing assessable educational
objectives and outcomes, the VPDUE has identified several specific steps for
consultation aimed at getting departmental and program faculty to provide
brief summaries of the educational objectives for their programs. The goal
is that all programs could achieve something like the level of explicitness
already attained by the Departments of Computer Engineering and of
Electrical Engineering as part of their ABET (Accreditation Board for
Engineering and Technology)
accreditation process. VPAA George Brown working with the Academic
Senate has proposed to incorporate attention to these objectives in the
program review process. The review process could then lead to the
development of more concrete measures of the outcomes associated with these
objectives, as faculty understand the benefits of collecting data on outcome
measures of educational effectiveness.
Currently, we know that 13 percent of UC Santa Cruz
undergraduates go on to advanced degree programs within 6 months of
graduation, and that about half of our graduates eventually go on to
professional or graduate school. We also know that we would rank 15th among
the more than 60 institutions in the Association of American Universities
survey in terms of the
our undergraduates who went on to earn doctoral degrees between 1991 and
1995. At present we have little systematic data about these trends measures
for individual divisions or departments.
Monitor General Education
The current campus General Education requirements were
adopted in 1985. They insure that each undergraduate student completes some
work in each of the major areas of the curriculum (Arts & Humanities,
Sciences & Engineering, and Social Sciences) while achieving objectives in
writing and mathematical skill and engagement with ethnic studies and the
arts. A summary of their objectives is given in
Exhibit M. In 1998, a committee of the Academic Senate recommended
revisions that would allow students more freedom to develop focal clusters
within the current framework, and would clarify the role of the college core
courses as part of the lower division writing sequence. This revision was
narrowly defeated by the entire Academic Senate, apparently due to two
concerns. The flexibility introduced by the revision would have diminished
the required level of exposure to the sciences relative to the current
system. For some impacted majors, there was also concern that the Writing
Intensive (W) requirement, intended to ensure that all students received
writing instruction in their major disciplines, was not sustainable.
Since that time, the Senate’s Committee on Educational
Policy (CEP) has pursued an evolutionary strategy for renewal by reviewing
and renewing individual components of the GE program. They have clarified
the objectives of the Ethnic Studies requirement and reviewed the courses
that carry the designation. They altered the relation between the “Writing
in the Disciplines” requirement (W) and the lower-division writing
curriculum following a review of the capacity of the courses that carried
the designation. Most recently, the Academic Senate has approved their
revision of the general education requirements in lower-division writing
that improves the articulation between the first writing seminar delivered
through the residential colleges (the “core courses”) and the second writing
course provided by the Writing Program. Under an instructional improvement
grant provided by the Committee on Teaching, the Council of Provosts and the
Writing Program are developing educational objectives for courses and an
improved placement process that will insure that students get instruction in
writing appropriate to their initial level of skill in college writing.
CEP is currently reviewing the objectives of the
mathematics (Q) requirement and how the courses that carry that designation
incorporate those objectives. These preparatory steps provide a foundation
for deciding whether to undertake another comprehensive review of the role
of GE. The Center for Studies
in Higher Education at UC Berkeley has recently formed a task force to
examine the role of General Education at the UC level. The work of that
taskforce (in which two UC Santa Cruz faculty will participate) will likely
provide further stimulus for CEP to return to the question of reviewing the
objectives of the general education requirements and assessing their role in
undergraduate degree requirements.
Improve Academic Advising
The 1994 WASC Accreditation review pointed out the need
for UC Santa Cruz to address several issues of coordination in academic
advising. They made six specific recommendations:
- Clarify the goals and purposes of academic advising
at all levels of the undergraduate experience.
- Define the different roles of staff, faculty, and
peer advisors … in both the Colleges and the [departments] with respect
to the undergraduate curriculum.
- Develop a consistent campus policy for the
recruitment, selection, and training of staff advisers and preceptors.
- Coordinate all academic advising, including that
which takes place in the various first-year and transfer orientations….
- Develop an advising brochure or expanded section in
The Navigator that provides a clear road map to campus advising
- Analyze the technical support needed to facilitate
effective academic advising campus-wide, and allocate appropriate
resources to achieve those ends.
The review acknowledged that there were many competent and
committed people involved in academic advising in various campus units. The
effectiveness of their efforts had been diminished by lack of coordination
among those units and poor technical support for the processes. Since that
review several steps were taken to improve the situation. The current
implementation of the new campus academic information system has provided
the opportunity to fully address the concerns.
The essay, Academic Advising at UC Santa Cruz, contained
in Exhibit N,
provides an analysis of the campus academic advising system and outlines the
agenda for improvement in several areas: improved campus coordination;
increased training and development for staff advisors; and improved
technical support for advising. We discuss each in turn.
1. Improved Coordination
Since 1994 clarification of roles and coordination has
been improved. The college academic preceptors have worked in their regular
council meetings to ensure that there is uniform practice in policy
enforcement across all the colleges and systematic interaction with staff
from other advising units. The departmental advisors have developed their
own advisory group to play a similar role. The Admissions Office has
coordinated the development of a summer orientation program, along with fall
and winter orientations.
In 1999 the VPDUE conducted a search for a campus advising
coordinator. The coordinator, who came from outside the UC system, began an
inventory of the campus advising staff and background research on advising
models. She also convened a cross campus advising forum, which was well
attended by advising staff. However the coordinator position became vacant
During 2002-4, the VPDUE agreed to appoint a team of
college academic preceptors to undertake three projects as part of their
- Development of a campus-wide annual advising forum
and regular informal opportunities for individual staff development.
- Improved coordination between college-based lower
division advising and departmental faculty and staff advising mediated
by the “advising cluster” model (see below).
- Formal liaison with the Academic Information System
implementation team (see below).
In June 2004, budget reductions eliminated funding for
this team of coordinating academic preceptors. The current VPDUE has
appointed two of those preceptors to on-going positions to facilitate
advising coordination and technical support.
2. Increase training and development
for staff advisors
For the last two years, the VPDUE has sponsored an
all-campus advisors forum, at which staff from all advising units came
together for development workshops and sessions in which issues were
developed for the campus agenda for advising coordination. In addition, a
regular series of “bag lunch” development meetings began in 2003-04 and were
well attended. These activities will continue in the coming year, supported
directly from the VPDUE’s office.
The Council of Provosts has increased support for college
advisors who wish to attend either the annual UC Advisors conference or a
regional meeting of National Academic Advising Association (NACADA). Support
for departmental advisors to attend these conferences has varied from
program to program.
Advising and support services provided for specific
populations of students, such as students in the Educational Opportunity
Program and transfer and re-entry students play an important role in
supporting the success of our undergraduates. Good practice in academic
advising is to insure that special purpose advising services like these are
well integrated with general academic advisors and staff and faculty
advisors in specific academic programs. In addition, the advising system
should effectively integrate services provided through the Career Center.
All of these aspects of advising can benefit from general coordination,
despite their relative independence of supervision within different academic
and student affairs divisions. Policy development and assessment managed
from the VPDUE’s office can insure that resources devoted to advising are
efficiently used to achieve their intended outcomes for students’ academic
planning and success.
3. Improved technical support for
UC Santa Cruz has just upgraded its academic information
system (AIS) to provide web portal access to student records. As we revise
old paper-based undergraduate academic business processes to take advantage
of the new system, we use four guiding principles.
- Students (and advisors) should be able to do the
majority of their required work via web-based self-service functions.
- Information about requirements, curriculum, policies,
and opportunities for enrichment should be provided through well
organized portal web sites.
- The advising system should encourage students to
connect with their (prospective) major program advisors, particularly
the faculty, early in their careers at UC Santa Cruz.
- Advising appointments should be able to concentrate
on proactive developmental planning, rather than reactive problem
We anticipate that the new system will improve the
technical support for academic advising by:
- Providing students and advisors with self-service
automated degree progress checks of degree requirements.
- Allowing faculty and staff advisors to communicate
more efficiently with their prospective and admitted students.
- Improving our ability to monitor student progress and
provide proactive interventions.
- Supporting advisors with a portal-based workbench of
tools for training, reference, and reporting.
- Improving articulation of transfer course work to UC
Santa Cruz requirements.
An overview of initiatives currently underway is included
in Exhibit N.
We expect our efforts in this area to result in
improvements in our ability to track student progress effectively to allow
timely proactive advising interventions. We will also be able to improve
analysis of the various “student streams” to assist curriculum planning and
scheduling that insures that we offer the appropriate courses (with the
right capacity) to enable students to achieve their degrees in a timely
4. Assessing the Effectiveness of
It seems reasonable to assume that the overall
effectiveness of our efforts to improve advising should be reflected by
further positive increases in the rates of retention and graduation as well
as time to degree. Our previous student information system made it difficult
to do analysis of these outcomes for particular groups of students. Given
the need for us to focus in the near term on reconstructing academic
advising within the new AIS, we defer development of a more finely tuned
assessment system for a year or two. However we are committed to defining
measures of effectiveness to guide the further development of academic
advising for undergraduates.
Our preparation for this review supports the judgment that
UC Santa Cruz’s undergraduate program provides its students with an
experience that meets or exceeds UC and national benchmarks for student
engagement, particularly in the level of academic challenge, opportunities
for enriching educational experiences, and the accessibility of its faculty.
We do not find here any reason to consider substantial alteration of current
We have, however, found areas in which effectiveness can
be improved by review and refinement of aspects of our current program. We
have improved our ability to use institutional research to support this
work. We have also gained an appreciation of the need to routinely provide
the faculty who supervise the various programs with the results of that
We do not perceive the goal of further development of
graduate education at UC Santa Cruz to be at odds with our commitment to
sustaining and enhancing undergraduate education. An outcome of this review
has revealed specific ways in which graduate students in programs related to
our undergraduate programs can enhance undergraduate engagement with the
research and creative activities of the campus. Expansion of graduate
education can provide undergraduates in programs that currently do not have
graduate components with senior colleagues who can assist the faculty in
sustaining their commitment to excellent undergraduate education in a
More generally, it is clear that graduate programs
contribute to the reputation of the campus in ways that attract
undergraduate students who can most benefit from the type of challenging
undergraduate programs that UC Santa Cruz offers.
 UC Santa Cruz’s permanent faculty is approximately 35
percent female and 24 percent minority. While these rates fall below
potential utilization given the availability of Ph.D.s in all academic
divisions, it places our faculty among the most diverse in the UC system. UC
Santa Cruz has for many years followed best practices in attracting and
retaining a diverse faculty and taking steps to increase the pipeline of
Ph.D.s from under-represented groups.